I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires
This book kept me at the edge of my seat for the entire read! Cathy Gohlke is truly talented in making the characters' emotions feel real. Due to a few violent scenes in the book, I do not recommend this to anyone under 15. This is a very sweeping tale and a nice complement to the first book of this series.
February 29, 2012
Heart-wrenching! Epic! Christy winner must-read!
"I have seen Him in the watchfires of a hundred circling camps...His truth is marching on."
"Battle Hymn of the Republic" roused a nation to sacred causes, telling by song an epic tale.
Cathy Gohlke creates no less of an epic in her second novel, I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires.
The Civil War has separated Robert from his mother, who has fled to her Confederate roots, and his father, who's serving, along with all able-bodied Northern males, in the Union army. Passionate about his work on the farm and with the Underground Railroad, Robert still pines for his family.
Then a letter arrives from Emily, the plantation-dwelling cousin Robert has always loved. Emily begs for Robert to help release her father, Robert's uncle, a Confederate soldier who languishes in a Union prison.
Without his father's guidance, Robert sets out on a quest, determined to do things his way. The horrors of war, greed fostered by inhumane conditions, and betrayal at the hand of a relative leave Robert despondent and vengeful.
An unlikely one-legged soldier and a reunion witih his beloved horse and God's guiding hand provide Robert miraculous passage through enemy country.
On the wings of prayers and the strength of an Irish nurse and passionate doctor, Robert eventually steps on the once-verdant plantation lands of Emily's family and his mother.
When the Old South incinerates right before Robert's eyes and Robert's hopes to reunite with his mother are nothing but cold ashes, will Robert grow cold in bitterness or die to his own plans and allow God to rule His life?
Readers, if you don't buy another book this year, PLEASE get this marvelous story. Gohlke explores allegiances, the evils of war, the struggles of a young adult to relinquish to God's will, and the tragedy of mental illness. The poignant prose and marvelous characterizations allowed me to trod in the soldiers' bloody bootprints and filled my ears with the roar of cannons.
May God whisper many more stories to Ms. Gohlke! She's penned a brilliant read.
January 10, 2011
Robert Glover faces more choices in this sequel to William Henry is a Fine Name. This time, we join Robert near his eighteenth birthday at his home in Maryland. The Civil War rages on, and Roberts father Charles is away, working for the Union making maps. Roberts mother Caroline has decided to stay on her fathers plantation in North Carolina. Despite his desire to fight for the Union, Robert promised his father that he would not enlist until he turns eighteen. Emily, Roberts cousin, asks him to visit her father, an officer in the Confederate army. Uncle Albert is being held as a prisoner of war at Fort Delaware. Robert agrees, due in part to family obligation, but mostly because he loves Emily. After he visits Albert, Robert plans to go help his mother, who he has not seen in four years.Robert involuntarily gets caught in a prison escape plan, derailing his plans to travel to North Carolina. He is abducted, left for dead, and faces charges as a spy, challenging his integrity, his endurance, and his faith. Roberts adventures include new friends, a persistent enemy, and even a friend from his past travels on the Underground Railroad.This book is a roller coaster reading adventure packed with action and intrigue. We see Robert mature and find his place in life while coning to terms with family secrets. I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires is a wonderful story that gives the reader thoughtful insight into days gone by. Roberts story brings history to life, and it would serve as a great teaching tool for this era. If you liked William Henry is a Fine Name, you are sure to enjoy Cathy Gohlkes satisfying conclusion to Roberts story.
April 24, 2009
One of the finest qualities of Cathy Gohlke's I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires is the way lines become blurred between Union and Confederate sympathies. And I don't simply mean the sympathies of the endearing, believable young hero, Robert Glover. Any reader of this touching, exciting novel will be surprised to find herself rooting for the southern inhabitants as often as for the northern. By dividing Robert's family, Gohlke shows the reader how our divided country suffered; how the conflict wasn't as simple as pro-slavery vs. abolition, states rights vs. Federal power. And, best of all for this reader, Gohlke never reaches for sentiment. Still, she managed to move me to tears more than once. An excellent read for teens and up.
March 6, 2009