Shadow of a Quarter Moon

Written by Eileen Clymer Schwab
Review by Susan Zabolotny

This story takes place in northeastern North Carolina and many points north on the Underground Railroad in the summer and fall of 1839. Jacy Lane lives on a prosperous horse plantation with her devoted father and loving grandmother, but her mother has never shown any sign of caring for her. The story begins with Jacy’s betrothal to Garrison Yob, a repulsive fortune hunter whose nasty behavior finally gets him banished by her father with orders never to return. When tragedy strikes and her father is no longer there to protect her or his slaves, Garrison returns to pursue her once more. She refuses him again, and her enraged mother blurts out a secret that changes the course of Jacy’s life forever. She is the daughter of her father and Jerlinda, the house slave.

When Jacy recovers from the shock and an attempted suicide, Jerlinda tells her of the deep love her parents have shared since childhood. Jerlinda’s crippled son, Axel, is also Jacy’s brother, and Rafe, a slave and gifted horseman, has always held a special place in her heart. When her mother plans to sell them, Jacy begins a journey that will transform her from the sheltered daughter of privilege to a fugitive fighting for her life and the lives of the family she has come to love.

The author does a wonderful job describing Jacy’s journey and her amazing transformation. The passage to freedom and family is a perilous one. Through the treacherous Dismal Swamp, the cruelty of slave hunters, and relentless pursuit by Garrison, she encounters the kindness of many strangers determined to aid her in her quest. Eileen Clymer Schwab’s pre-Civil War novel is a delight on every level. The characters are well developed, and her thorough research shows on every page. I highly recommend this book.