Yoke of Wind

Written by Luke Comer
Review by Lisa Sheehan

In Luke Comer’s debut novel Yoke of Wind, set in the American South in the years leading up to the American Civil War, a married couple confronts the institution of slavery in very different ways. Jonah is a slave owner who faces the brutal realities of that world with a cynical pragmatism that alarms his wife, Eloise, who tries to feel Christian love for her slaves even though they often repulse her. Complicating this dynamic still further is the presence of a charismatic slave on their plantation, a man determined to rally his fellow slaves to African mysticism – and an African homecoming that Jonah and Eloise both want to prevent, for very different reasons.

Comer writes his unusual story with raw, often beautiful prose, and what his totemized, overdramatized characters lack in immediate relatability, they make up in the sheer vividness of their portrayal. This is a multifaceted and often provocatively challenging fictional depiction of the complicated, conflicting realities of the world of the slave-owning South before the Civil War radically changed the picture.

A very strong reading experience.