The Beauty of Songs of Shenandoah [Review]
Today (and by “today,” I mean veeery early this morning), I finished reading Songs of Shenandoah, the last installment of the Heirs of Ireland Trilogy by Michael K. Reynolds. I read straight through from about page 200 to page 428 just last night and the entire book in less than a week. Yes, it was that phenomenal!
I regret to say, I have not yet read Flight of the Earls, the first installment *adds to my 2014 reading list* but I have read In Golden Splendor (#2) and from that I can say that Songs of Shenandoah makes a graceful transition and I was happily surprised by the ending.
Being a black woman with Irish roots, this book holds particular meaning to me. Set during the Civil War, skipping largely between New York and Virginia, we see a stark picture of our nation’s history that they don’t teach you in school: our nation tearing apart at the seams. North against South. Northerner against Northerner. Southerner against Southerner. What Reynolds touches on regarding the unrest between races in Golden Splendor, he completes in Songs of Shenandoah. For a woman whose black paternal grandfather met her Irish paternal grandmother in New York, it’s painful to watch the terrible dissension between the two peoples unfold in Songs. Yet as is so often true, we see the root of all evil: money.
Money drives the Southern stakes in slave-owning enterprises. Money causes the Southern cotton to find its way up North for industrialization. Money causes the Irish to hate the blacks they credit with stealing their jobs and causing their unwarranted deaths. Yes money makes the maddened world go ‘round.
Friend against friend. Brother against brother. This novel covers the ugliness that is war with a simple beauty that only Michael K. Reynolds possesses. It ends seamlessly and makes me wonder not only what is next for the Hanley Clan that fills this series, but what is next for Michael K. Reynolds. A job well done sir, a job well done!