Epicenter: A Sweeping Historical Novel of Forbidden Love
Independently Published (2021)
Reviewed by Amy Lignor for Reader Views (07/21)
It was an absolute pleasure to read “Epicenter” by Carrie Hannah. Not only are four amazing women presented, but their lives, their choices, their separate journeys, are all so exciting and different from one another that I could not put the book down.
First, Caitlyn is introduced in her small town of Hope Mills, North Carolina. You see the 1898 surroundings, the small-town people – some with extremely small minds – and immediately being to route for Caitlyn, wanting to see her future get better. Being sold by her own father, Caitlyn is only 16 when she is traded to pay off his gambling debts. She’s friends with a Black man named Coltrane who works for her family, but they find they must hit the road when the townspeople start to believe Coltrane is responsible for violence that befell Caitlyn’s mother, even though it was her horrible father that bore the guilt.
Three other females, at different stages of their lives, then appear one by one with their own incredible backstories. At the same time as Caitlyn is attempting to flee in order to save her friend’s life, Liah from Zhanjiang, Guangdong Province, South China, is living a life of total abuse at the hands of her husband. She is constantly in pain, and decides to take off, attempting to flee from the hands of a man who wants nothing more than to destroy her.
Marianna is the next to arrive. Constantly criticized by her parents, this girl is now stowed in the belly of a ship called the Columbia. Marianna’s true passion is music – blues and ragtime, to be exact. Her parents, of course, wanted nothing more from her than to behave herself because they were grooming her to be the wife of a rich man. But that is their dream, not hers. Because of their attitude, and the perception that she created another sin, she’s now hiding on the ship, wondering what life has in store. The quartet is rounded out by One Feather. Standing over her sister’s body, saying a final prayer to both her sibling, Dark Moon, and her sibling’s child, she must face the fact that she’s the last surviving member of the Chimariko Tribe. Packing up, she heads to a place she’s gone only once before, Weaverville, California, not knowing what to expect.
Without giving too much away, let me just say that these characters and their stories are equally spellbinding. And when the time comes for their journeys to cross, the plot becomes even more engrossing. The author has written with a great deal of emotion, and she presents the time periods and locations so well that the reader feels as if they’re standing right there. This is definitely a work with great texture that feels like a master storyteller has presented it.