I am so awestruck by this story that it is hard to find words. The tale is phenomenally well-researched, but the reader doesn't feel overwhelmed by the facts - they are simply the backdrop for this passionate epic. Kiana Davenport describes the brutalities of war (and life in general in the mid-1800s) in beautiful, horrible, sometimes extremely graphic detail.
Here are just two of the many things I learned about the Civil War from this book:
Black people were not the only slaves - Chinese and Native Americans were also kidnapped and sold into slavery.
Southern women grew poppies to supply opium to their troops since the Union was blocking shipments at the ports.
The Spy Lover highlights the senselessness of war, the choice of hope and courage in the face of insurmountable odds, and especially the question of what to do with the terrible things you've witnessed when your life goes back to normal. Era and Warren's mismatched romance and Johnny's "fish out of water" experiences help to humanize a story that I had only read before in history books or Gone with the Wind.
I received a complimentary copy of this book for the purposes of review. All opinions are 100% my own.