Queen of the Union

Written by John Zink
Review by Bonnie DeMoss

This novel, Book 2 of the Queen of the West trilogy, is set in Cincinnati, Ohio, on the brink of the Civil War in 1855. Cincinnati sits on the Kentucky/Ohio border. As the book opens, it is on the Southern edge of the Union, and its people are divided on many issues, especially slavery.  Max and Annie are continuing their lives in Cincinnati, but the Civil War puts a hold on Max’s pursuits as a businessman and Annie’s activism in the women’s movement. Max is a pacifist and will not fight, but he tries to help out the Union in other ways. Revelations about Max’s father also bring new family members to light.

This series continues to portray Cincinnati’s history. The plight of the enslaved at that time is heartbreaking, and the author does a good job of showing the varying and often shocking attitudes of average citizens of Cincinnati and elsewhere towards slavery during that time. This book, through the character of John and others, draws attention to the almost impossible circumstances faced by enslaved persons who had escaped, including racism and the Fugitive Slave Act. The story starts with a harrowing rescue attempt on the Underground Railroad, takes us into the Civil War, and shows Cincinnati’s part in it, including the Siege of Cincinnati. Max and Annie are strong protagonists with their own strengths and flaws, and two new characters who are introduced are quite compelling. The author includes a wealth of historical facts about Cincinnati, good and bad, that many people may not know. Recommended to those interested in Ohio history and the Civil War.