A Passel of Hate
“You can’t sit on the fence anymore,” a character tells Jacob Godley in Joe Epley’s ripping-good Revolutionary War novel, A Passel of Hate, “you have to choose sides.” Every one of Epley’s huge cast must also choose sides in a conflict that’s literally setting brother against brother all throughout the Carolinas, with Loyalists and their savage raiding parties opposed by defiant (and equally savage) Liberty Men. This is the bitter, unglamorous underside of the Revolution, and it engulfs the Godley family, with two brothers joining the Liberty Men and three joining the Loyalists. Epley does a thrillingly effective job fleshing out his many characters (there are no one-dimensional heroes—or villains—here), and he lavishes attention on the kinds of real-world details too many historical novelists gloss over—readers will learn as much about trail rations and camp organization as about higher political ideology, and Epley’s undemonstratively evocative prose and tightly controlled narrative keep it all interesting right up to a well-orchestrated climax at the battle of Kings Mountain and its bittersweet aftermath. Enthusiastically recommended.