Challenge 18 ~ “A Carnegie Medal winning book.”
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This was another of those books which blew me out of the water this year. It’s an understatement to say that I wasn’t expecting much from this book – I’ve had many a negative experience of historical fiction that too often they overshadow the fantastic ones. Without a shadow of doubt, however, this is definitely one of the latter (and its Carnegie Medal just goes to prove this.)
Opening the novel may have been a struggle, but after beginning the first pages, it was anything but. From the very beginning Landman achieved a balance that made it both informative and engaging. Coming from the English school system, I had very little background knowledge on the American Civil War (except, of course, from Gone with the Wind!) and yet I felt included and comfortable in the historical setting, learning leaps and bounds as time went on.
Before too long I was approaching the middle, far more educated and much more engaged than I had been at the start. Adventure-wise, little was definitively under way, and yet the pacing had carried the reader confidently this far, without seeming trudgy in the least. But Landman didn’t let it stay this way for long!
Whilst maintaining the pace, informative role and stable characterisation, Landman launched into the action of the novel, continuing from strength to strength as the chapters unfurled. Characters came and went, time jumps occurred, and yet there was not a point where the reader’s interest or understanding faltered. Landman illustrated how historical fiction novels should be written, and drew me into the genre completely.
It’s a day I didn’t think I’d see so soon, when I award a historical fiction novel five stars without even an ounce of doubt. With Buffalo Soldier, however, Landman truly earned it, and I question why I never got around to her 2007 Carnegie shortlisted novel, Apache. Worry not, it’s certainly on my to-read list now (along with several other historical novels)! Even for the uneducated or non-historical fan, this is a truly incredible read and one that will resonate and raise questions for considerable time afterwards.
Recommended for fans of:
- Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
- Whose Side Are You On? by Alan Gibbons
- The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier