Harper’s Donelson: The Shiloh Trilogy, Book 1

Written by Sean Kevin Gabhann
Review by Laura Fahey

Sean Kevin Gabhann ingeniously weaves three converging story lines together against a backdrop of dramatic history in Harper’s Donelson, the first of his Shiloh Trilogy.

The book tells the story of three people: a whorehouse saloon-girl named Katie Malloy, Lieutenant James Harper, a junior officer in the Union army, and Corporal Gustav Magnusson, a Quaker in the same company as Harper. All three are caught up in General Grant’s determination to take Fort Donelson, and although that famous campaign fills the air of the novel, the events on the personal level happening to our three main characters are the focus of the book, brought into sharp relief by Gabhann’s great pacing and sensitive ear for dialogue. Katie, especially, seems to live on the page.

The villain of the book, the vicious Confederate Captain Bell, is a wonderfully cinematic bad guy. With his inventive and intensely readable novel, Gabhann has written a very enjoyably old-fashioned character-driven melodrama that I could not stop reading, and I eagerly await the next volume.