Prairie Dog Town
Karl A. Bacon
Reviewed by Ben Green for Reader Views (10/16)
Article first published as Book Review: ‘Prairie Dog Town’ by Karl A. Bacon on Blogcritics.
“Prairie Dog Town” by Karl A. Bacon is a fast-paced piece of historical fiction set during the American Civil War. The narrative follows the story of Stanley, a “former” Union soldier, turned slave/prisoner, who was wounded in battle and trying to make his way back to his love in Tennessee.
This is the second book in the story and I want to admit up front that I have not read the first one. That being said, reading the second book first did not seem to detract from the experience and Mr. Bacon has done a great job ensuring the second book functions well enough as a stand-alone story. The story begins with Stanley as a prisoner on a Confederate riverboat; however, as luck would have it, the riverboat meets with disaster and Stanley is able to begin his journey back to Tennessee, albeit briefly, before he is waylaid again. This time, Stanley finds himself living in an underground shelter and working in a military hospital providing for wounded soldiers.
The author’s chosen backdrop of the American Civil War is well created, probably because it is a time period in which Mr. Bacon has been dedicated to since his youth. At times, it seems a bit romanticized although there are moments, particularly in the field hospital, that are a bit gruesome and reality seems to seep through. Overall, however, the setting holds up well and any soft sell of events seems to be due to the author’s passion for the time period as well as his ability to make the story easily consumable. Speaking of consumable, the font is large, the chapters are short, and the story progresses at an excellent pace, which allows the reader to easily lose track of time while reading.
Karl A. Bacon's “Prairie Dog Town” does justice to both Indie authors and historical fiction by recreating one of America’s darkest moments in a way that is inspiring and entertaining. The only downside I found was, while the story itself is interesting and the book well written, the main character felt somewhat flat to me. Stanley, a man left for dead by his comrades, enslaved by his enemies and is now free and seeking out his long-lost love, while reflective, also seems passive in his own story and almost approaches his imprisonment on the riverboat and subsequent escape with a laissez-faire attitude. At one point, Stanley is told that if God wants him to be reunited with his love in Tennessee then eventually he will be. This seems to be his whole approach to everything. By Chapter 26, I still found myself having difficulty connecting with the character and unfortunately, it never got any better. The rest of the story, however, makes up for the character development and I found myself approaching Stanley less as an important part of the story and more as a set of eyes taking in the action around him.
To conclude, Bacon's “Prairie Dog Town” is a good read for anyone interested in the time period. It would make an excellent companion for a long flight or rainy day and I don't think it would disappoint anyone who is a fan of historical fiction. I give it an unusually high rating on my scale, 4 out of 5 stars.