Author: Rachael Huszar
Narrator: Jenn Lee
Length: 5 hours and 31 minutes
Producer: Audiobook Empire
Publisher: Rachael Huszar
Released: January 20, 2022
Genre: Historical Thriller
From the author—
Jessalyn Joy loves her husband, but she can’t help the feelings that arose when he volunteered for the Union army. When he comes back to her in a box instead of on his feet, those feelings complicate even more.
Jessalyn’s mourning period is cut short when something begins to attack the livestock in their small town, and greater dangers begin to threaten their provincial life. Thrown together with the new reverend, one of her own students, and a strange man somehow related to her husband’s passing, Jessalyn must find a way to stop the evils that threaten her husband’s first and ultimately last home.
Set in the Southwestern home front, Huszar blends a taste of fantasy into a startling down-to-earth world, creating a high stakes adventure for this strong female protagonist and her band of amateur sleuths.
With all the books I’ve read about the Civil War, and there have been many over the years, none have focused on New Mexico (not yet a state at that time) until this one. To those living east of the Mississippi, the New Mexico territory must have seemed like another world, exotic and full of Indians and vast ranches while the New Mexicans, by and large, must have felt very distant from the building tensions leading up to the war. That supposed disconnect added an element of intensity to this story, in my opinion.
Taking things a step further, the tale opens with a look at some very strange cattle killing going on and the arrival of a stranger, Samuel Brooks, in town. Three Willows is apparently Samuel’s ultimate destination but why would he want to come to this remote place? And so we’re off with dual mysteries that seem to be completely unrelated.
Samuel is soon introduced to Jessalyn Joy, the town schoolteacher who is semi-forced into taking him on as a boarder but she has much on her mind after learning of her husband’s death in the Union army and with the puzzling mystery of the cattle killings. Perhaps it’s her schoolteacher personality but she’s practically driven to investigating, aided and abetted by a small ragtag band of fellow sleuthers.
Jenn Lee does a nice job with the narration, maintaining a good pace and keeping things intense enough while much of this first book is dedicated to worldbuilding and character development. I’m looking forward to learning much more about Three Willows and its citizens in the second book.
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, March 2022.
I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Audiobook Empire. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.
Rachael Huszar kept her life steeped in stories from a young age, and she began her own journey in story-making when she reached adulthood. In the time since, she has taken up swimming, roller skating, and consuming tabletop RPG streams. She spends the bulk of her time with her dog, Silo, and works full time as a designer in Dallas, Texas.
After 20+ years as professional NYC actor, Jenn Lee stumbled into some documentary voiceover work. From that moment on, she knew the trajectory of her career had been changed forever. She adores narrating and doing VO, and every job feels like a gift.
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