Lance Weller - Wilderness (4 stars)

Lance Weller - Wilderness

A striking and beautiful historical novel

This debut novel from Lance Weller alternates between 1864 and 1899 and tells the story of Abel Truman, a solider who fought and nearly died for the Confederacy in the American Civil War, before being taken in by two former slaves. It's a bold novel, not only for the subject matter, but also because vast swathes of the book flash back to the Civil War itself. This slows the pacing of the novel, and as much of the focus is on a particularly bloody battle, the reader often feels like they are rereading the same endlessly violent scene.

The 1899 sections of the novel are the strongest. Abel’s journey through the wilderness to return home to say a final goodbye to his wife and child are moving and exquisitely written, the prose almost poetic in parts: ‘The deeply calloused soles of his bare feet rasped on the floorboards like shy whispers.’

Wilderness is a moving and evocative war story, told with beautiful prose and in a bold, distinctive style.

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