The Feudist: A Novel of the Pleasant Valley War
TCU Press (2020)
Reviewed by Robert Leon Davis for Reader Views (02/2021)
Set in the turbulent western 1800s, “The Feudist: A Novel of the Pleasant Valley War” by Daniel Herman a historical fiction accounting of true events surrounding the deadly and terrible family feud between two ranching families; the Graham’s and the Tewksbury’s. In fact, both families were close friends until a certain event by a third person caused the feud.
The author goes into great detail revealing the hows and whys of this significant event, told through the eyes of and narrated by one Ben Holcomb, the central character. The murders, mayhem, love, hate, and malicious revenge is revealed in very graphic imagery. It’s reported that the feud was so great, that Congress refused to annex the Arizona Territories into statehood because of the violence. Think the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s on steroids and you’ll have a good image of the story.
“The Feudist” is a novel, but more of a hybrid-novel/non- fiction. It’s written sort of in the third person but the book is actually based on historical facts which I found very refreshing.
I am usually able to ascertain within reading 10 pages of “Western” based books whether its well-written; this one only took me 2 pages!
The way the book incorporates a narrator was Herman’s first brilliant move. It sounds as if you’re not just reading a book but you’re a part of the book! His second brilliant move is expressing the facts of the story without any mistakes. This is vitally important to “connect” the novel with the facts! As a side note, I actually performed some research as I was reading to verify the factual history (Yes, I’m that type of reviewer). I’m purposely not revealing a lot of other detail about this good story and you’ll thank me for that when you read the book. Finally, I believe that any potential student who wishes to study the “art of writing” read this book. The syntax, verbiage, flow patterns, paragraph and chapter spacing and introduction injections is superb!
“The Feudist” is one of the many western novels that I would read again. Definitely a keeper. Well done, Professor Daniel Herman…Easily 5 stars!