Mrs. M. Kenan’s previous books, The Betrayal, The Outcast, and The Dark Secrets, have earned her thousands of fans. Wildlands, her newly released epic novel, is sure to delight her old fans and will bring her many new ones as well.
Wildlands is one big and juicy read: 570 pages of breathtaking excitement and adventure set in a fascinating place and time. In a Kenan novel we know we will find multifaceted characters, nuanced and subtle social commentary, and a dazzling plot full of twists and turns and surprises. In Wildlands, we get all that — and more!
Wildlands resembles Mrs. Kenan’s other novels in quality, but there is one huge difference — in this new, absorbing novel, we leave the mythical land of Khazar, with its princely battles and betrayals, for two real-life places — America’s 19th-century Wild West, and Tsarist Russia. Instead of reading about King Istrak and his long-lost son Mehalalel, we will be following the adventures of mysterious Russian aristocrats, suffering Jewish cantonists, and gun-toting Americans facing danger in America’s rugged plains.
Is Pyotor Tropimovitz Barnov an expatriate Russian aristocrat, searching for adventure in America’s Wild West? Or is he a socialist on the run from Tsarist forces? An apostate Jew? A faithful follower of Torah? And why is his life inextricably tied to the fate of Chaim Gedaliah Kagan, a young Jew mistakenly conscripted into the Tsar’s brutal army?
No one knows. All that is certain is that Barnov is an expert marksman, a man of courage who leaps into the fires of a burning railroad car to save something precious, and who stares down outlaws bent on his destruction.
Wildlands is a hard novel to define. It’s a mystery. And a thriller. And a dramatic work of historical fiction. Most of all, it’s a compelling and thought-provoking story that keeps us enthralled right through Barnov’s final shocking adventure.