Book: Daughter Of The Sky by Michelle Diener
Genre: Historical Fiction, African Studies
Source + Date Read: E-Book Received for Blog Tour + April 2013
Recommend: For those that enjoy a not-so-typical HF. It’s in an interesting area and time, and it’s refreshing to see a new topic raised in HF.
Book Pro’s: Interesting, Diener writes beautifully and I don’t think it’s so easy to convey the past in such an eloquent way.
Book Con’s: I wasn’t too fond of how neat the ending was, though there are some deaths that occur that broke my heart.
About Daughter of the Sky
The Victorian Empire has declared war on the Zulus if they don’t agree to their outrageous demands. The clock is ticking down to the appointed hour. With no idea why the British are marching three massive columns of men and guns towards them, one Zulu general is prepared to take an impossible risk. But the life he’s gambling with isn’t his own . . .
The sole survivor of a shipwreck off the Zululand coast, 15 year-old Elizabeth Jones is taken in by the Zulus, the people of the sky. Six years later, her white skin becomes useful to the Zulu army as they try to work out why the Victorian Empire has pointed their war-machine at the Zulu nation. Elizabeth is suddenly Zululand’s most important spy.
While infiltrating the British camp, Elizabeth’s disguise as a young soldier is uncovered almost immediately by Captain Jack Burdell. However, he believes the tale she spins of searching for a missing brother and shields her from discovery, allowing her to bunk in his tent and giving her a job as his batman. Burdell is war-weary and disillusioned – no longer willing to follow regulations at all costs.
But as Elizabeth and Jack explore their growing attraction to each other, the two armies move towards their inevitable clash. Elizabeth is torn between the guilt of betrayal and her fierce loyalty to her Zulu family, and when Zulu and British meet on the battlefield, both she and Jack find their hearts and their lives caught in the crossfire.
About the Author
Michelle Diener writes historical fiction. Her Susanna Horenbout and John Parker series starts with IN A TREACHEROUS COURT. Set in the court of Henry VIII, it features the real historical figures of artist Susanna Horenbout and Henry’s Keeper of the Palace of Westminster and Yeoman of the King’s Robes, John Parker. It was followed by KEEPER OF THE KING’S SECRETS, also featuring Susanna Horenbout and John Parker, and DANGEROUS SANCTUARY, a short story with the same characters, set between the two books, is currently available as an ebook only.
A new historical novel, set during the Napoleonic Wars in London in 1811, THE EMPEROR’S CONSPIRACY, was released on November 27th, 2012. Michelle also contributed a short paranormal story to the ENTANGLED Anthology entitled BREAKING OUT. All the proceeds of the sale of ENTANGLED go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
Michelle grew up in South Africa, and now lives in Australia with her husband and two children. For more information please visit Michelle Diener’s website. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.
This is my second Blog Tour Book Review ever done, but my first time working with Amy from Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours (HFVBT) and the process has been great. To be open and transparent: I received a copy of Daughter of the Sky to produce a review for HFVBT. As a result, this tour isn’t going to follow my typical format (you know, analysing the cover, setting, characters and so on) and will dive right into the meat of it.
Let me first say that I enjoyed this book immensely. I’m an African Studies buff and I enjoy the opportunity to read some sort of fiction from or about the region. So when I was approached with the opportunity to read this book, I pretty much jumped all over it. This book is self-published and a rare treat for this format in my opinion- it is well-edited and the characters have been thoroughly fleshed out. I also appreciated the narration style- we switch between Elizabeth and Captain Jack Burdell, so not only are we seeing the Zulu side of the war, but we’re seeing the British as well. Things are also sent into a tizzy when you realise that a couple of layered things are going on:
Elizabeth’s narration are told from the Zulu point of view, yet Elizabeth herself isn’t Zulu and she is also female- so her story holds a rare perspective, one that inhabits a unique grey area I think. She is both foreign and yet not. She is Zulu and she isn’t. This fact made me think about the character’s authenticity and ability to convey what was really going on. Her unique perspective is refreshing and complicated. I enjoyed it, but my inner anthropologist wondered about true purpose of this perspective.
Then we get to Birdell, who I never liked anyway. Maybe it’s my inner feminist, but I am not one for male narrators. That being said, a lot of background information (necessary stuff too, if Diener hadn’t included his perspective and history, I’d have been lost a few time) comes from his perspective- and his perspective wasn’t pretty. His character/view-point has what I call, the Ethical/Philosophical Angst of the book. Without Burdell, who would be left to question the purpose of the war and in extent, colonialism? Who are the real bad guys here?
Zulu’s have been portrayed as a war-loving group throughout history and I enjoyed the bit of sympathy Diener showed them, after all, they were the ones being forced out of their homes. She isn’t overly sympathetic though, as she is also quick to point out some unsavory parts of their culture (it involves women and death).