A Veil of Fog and Flames

Written by Lori Hart Beninger
Review by Fiona Ness

Beninger opens the second book of her Embracing the Elephant series in an 1851 San Francisco in the immediate aftermath of a catastrophe: “Where once the vibrant city of San Francisco stood, now a cauterized field stretches to the churning waters of the harbor.” So observes young teenager Guinevere Walker, the fourteen-year-old daughter of a local doctor, who joins her father in trying to save the lives of the many victims of the great fire that’s just swept through the city.

Another fellow victim and survivor is young Jack Moylan, less educated than Guinevere but every bit as enterprising, and gradually Guinevere develops strong romantic feelings for “this boy who spoke his mind and teased me  and cast his protective shadow over those he considered his friends.”

The two young people find themselves confronting an Antebellum San Francisco that’s as vibrant as it is violent, as unrefined as it is uninhibited, and under Beninger’s skillful handling, her two characters navigate some harrowing adventures in that sordid new modern world and also navigate their growing feelings for each other. The resulting novel is both exciting and heart-warming, an easy recommendation for fans of the Deadwood era.