Nicodemus, Kansas, was founded in 1877 as a refuge for ex-slaves from the South. Miller sets her Freedom’s Path series here, and Morning Sky is the second volume. Lilly Verdue arrives to stay with her brother-in-law, Ezekiel Harban, and his daughters, Jarena, Truth and Grace. She is fleeing an ex-lover in New Orleans, under a cloud of suspicion connected with a murder. Lilly’s big-city ways, including dabbling in voodoo and a reluctance to work, don’t fit in with the hard-working, God-fearing townspeople. Lilly’s disclosure of her true relationship to Jarena Harban brings matters to a crisis. There is a subplot in which Truth goes to New York to rescue the daughter of her white employers from a girls’ school, where pupils have become ill under suspicious circumstances.
Some of the characters’ motivations were either absent or didn’t ring true to me; it’s possible I’m missing something by not having read the first volume. Miller uses a heavy hand to ensure the reader doesn’t fail to spot the villain, endowing him with a “despicable sneer.” The story of the ex-slaves in Kansas deserves to be more widely known, and Miller gets credit for the attempt, but I didn’t enjoy it much.