A Shackled Inheritance, by Madeleine McDonald, Reviewed.

a shackled

Romance in the days of slavery, set in the West Indies, is here given a treatment that’s both thoughtful and inspirational. This is a tale of love against the odds. Two young people thrown together by circumstance are trying to deal with differences in outlook based on their individual ignorance and prejudices. And the threat of violence on the island they must both visit for different reasons might tear them apart.

It’s clear that the author has done her research for this absorbing story. The harsh detail of the world of slavery on a small Caribbean island, the wonderful evocation of shipboard life for two landlubbers travelling in the early nineteenth century, and the hypocritical authority of the Kirk Elders of Scotland all come to life in this story. The reader isn’t simply taken on a hazardous voyage but immersed in life aboard. Slavery isn’t merely a backdrop but its injustices and cruelties are revealed as Abigail struggles to justify her challenging new role, taking responsibility for the lives of those on the plantation she’s inherited. And the rules and morals of her upbringing in the narrow-minded church are at odds with the world she sees around her as she travels to meet the half-sisters she never knew she had.

The characters, both male and female, are drawn with such confidence and sympathy that the reader is able to understand each of them, appreciate their idiosyncrasies, share their doubts. These are real people with real problems, real concerns, real desires and needs.

Well-paced and cleverly structured, this romance has the power to grip from the outset. It’s a good, entertaining, informative and engaging read. I’ve read other books by this author, and this is every bit as good as her other work. Readers who enjoy vicariously living other lives will love this.

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