“Meg’s father was gone. Again. She stood in his empty room for only a moment, summoning her wits.”

Opening lines of “Veiled in Smoke” by Jocelyn Green

Jocelyn Green, once again, writes a story that leaps off the page. Each scene is so well written it appears in front of the reader’s eyes.

“Veiled in Smoke” begins as fire ravages Chicago and we follow the ramifications it has for one family. Stephen, father of Meg and Sylvie, returned from the Civil war suffering from what would be in modern terms be diagnosed as PTSD. The night of the fire brings the horrors of war back to life and, in the confusion, he is accused and charged with the murder of his dear friend. He is sentence to life in an asylum.

Meg and Sylvie, whilst reeling about their father, struggle as they realise they have lost their source of income. Nate Pierce, a local reporter and friend, comes alongside the ladies to help them investigate the mystery surrounding their father’s arrest.

The story reflects all four perspectives of events. Stephen’s is heart-breaking, he struggles so hard against the flashbacks and emotional pain and feels his failure to protect his daughters. His experience in the asylum is harrowing. Meg is a fascinating character, full of determination, faith and optimism. Sylvie offers a mix of realism and romanticism and Nate is a logical voice and kind heart. The combination is a compelling journey in which I couldn’t help but root for them. The investigation into why Stephen’s friend was murdered is intriguing and full of twist and turns! To all this, there are interesting nuggets of well-researched history tucked in everywhere!

If historical fiction is a favourite for you, this is one to read! It’s a five out of five on the enJOYment scale.

From the back cover:

Meg and Sylvie Townsend manage the family bookshop and care for their father, Stephen, a veteran still suffering in mind and spirit from his time as a POW during the Civil War. But when the Great Fire sweeps through Chicago’s business district, they lose much more than just their store.

The sisters become separated from their father and make a harrowing escape from the flames with the help of Chicago Tribune reporter Nate Pierce. Once the smoke clears away, they reunite with Stephen, only to learn soon after that their family friend was murdered on the night of the fire. Even more shocking, Stephen is charged with the crime and committed to the Cook County Insane Asylum.

Though homeless and suddenly unemployed, Meg must not only gather the pieces of her shattered life, but prove her father’s innocence before the asylum truly drives him mad.

I received a complimentary copy of the book from Bethany House through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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