With the virtuosic, richly historical prose that marked The Blood of Heaven, Wascom carves a gothic tale of insurrection and ill-advised romance, spanning one year in the city at the heart of Secessia, the rebellious just-conquered South.
New Orleans, May 1862. The largest city in the ill-starred confederacy has fallen to Union troops under the soon-to-be-infamous General Benjamin “the Beast” Butler. Twelve-year-old Joseph Woolsack disappears from his home, putting his mother Elise into a panic and his father Angel into a rage. Joseph must come to grips with his father’s legacy of violence, as chronicled in The Blood of Heaven, and his growing affection for his neighbor, the Cuban orphan girl Marina Fandal. Elise must struggle to maintain a hold on her sanity, her son and her station, but is threatened by the resurgence of a troubling figure from her past, Dr. Emile Sabatier, a fanatical physician who adores disease and is deeply mired in the conspiracy and intrigue surrounding the occupation of the city. These characters’ paths all intersect with General Benjamin Butler of Massachusetts, a man who history will call a beast, but whose avarice and brutal acumen are ideally suited to the task of governing an “ungovernable city.”
Secessia weaves a tapestry of ravenous greed and malformed love, of slavery and desperation, set within the baroque melting-pot that was wartime New Orleans.
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