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Very well researched and historically accurate, The King’s Mercy, the newest novel by Lori Benton, takes place during the colonial times (circa 1746 to 1750) and centers on Alex MacKinnon, a Scotsman who survived Culloden, (which was a battle considered rebellion against the king; and the king showed Alex mercy by exiling him) and finds himself on a prison boat to the New World, where he is promptly sold into indentured servitude.
His servitude leads him to become the new blacksmith at a plantation in North Carolina, where he meets young Joanna Carey, stepdaughter of the plantation owner Edmund Carey. He is taken with her strength and beauty, but a little off put by her faith, which is something that he struggles with.
The novel has a wide assortment of characters, young and old, rich and poor, noble and villain. I don’t consider it a love story, in so much as adventurous mystery with love and faith in Christ woven beautifully throughout. She also weaves in other historical elements, such as the Cherokee Indians and interactions with them.
It kept me fully engaged, and eagerly turning page after page to find out what happens next. It made me upset, it made me laugh, it made me angry. It covers topics (such as slavery) that while standard at the time, are controversial. Lori Benton did not try to sugar coat them but dove in deep, so you were invested in the story. She really gave you things to think about.
There is a dark and more mature themed plot twist. Considering this, I would probably not allow a young person to read this. I would think high school or higher, but would also recommend a parent read it first, or perhaps read it together.
It would be a wonderful book discussion book as there are rich topics throughout that lend themselves to a good discussion.
I highly recommend the book.
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Please note, I was given an advanced reader’s copy by the publisher, through Net Galley.