Blog Tour: Soul's Prisoner
About the BookBook Title: Soul’s Prisoner
Author: Cara Luecht
Genre: Historical fiction with some suspense and romance
Release Date: December 15, 2015
Chicago, Winter, 1891 Rachel is in danger. She’s seen too much. She creeps along the cement walls through the dank underbelly of the asylum. She’d never planned to leave her quiet farm life, never thought she’d find a place in the city, never imagined she’d be in the kind of danger that would have her cowering in Dunning’s cold, labyrinthine basement. Jenny has finally found her place. After a childhood of abuse, she has friends, a real job, and her only wish is to give her adopted son the kind of life she never had. A life of stability, without the risk and uncertainty of a father. But when Jeremy, Rachel’s brother, stumbles into their warehouse, asking for help to find his missing sister, Jenny’s carefully constructed life begins to crumble.
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A powerful, moving novel, Soul’s Prisoner started off slowly and took 50-60 pages to get moving. The author uses several points of view which creates a deep, multi-faceted story. However, having not read the first book in the series I found the constant changes between characters confusing. Once I got to knew the characters and became immersed in the story, I was hooked. Obviously well-researched, the book uses vivid descriptions to portray the sordid and sometimes tragic life in a late 19th Century asylum. With its page-turning suspense and many plot twists, Soul’s Prisoner kept me reading late into the night. It is not an easy story to read in that it deals with difficult issues such as prostitution, rape, and abuse, but the author handles each subject with sensitivity. The characters are a realistic combination of strengths and flaws, and I especially liked Miriam and Michael. Although Christian fiction, I was disappointed that references to God and elements of faith were marginally included. Prayer only seemed to be used when in dire straits. I enjoy historical fiction about real people, places, and events, and appreciated the additional information included at the end about the history of the Dunning asylum.
I received a copy of this book for free from CelebrateLit Publicity, and a positive review was not required. All opinions expressed are my own.
About the Author
Award winning author, Cara Luecht, lives in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin with her husband, David, and their children. Cara graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Currently, Cara is studying for a Masters of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary.
Guest Post from Cara LuechtThe Setting for Soul’s Prisoner: Dunning Asylum for the Insane Dunning Asylum for the Insane was built in the 1850s and housed psychiatric patients until the early 1900s. It has since been demolished, and a small park currently stands as the only remaining testament to the people who lived and died on the grounds. The original plot of land also included a poor farm and a cemetery. A railroad used to connect the grounds to Minneapolis, Chicago, and Milwaukee. It was nicknamed the “Crazy Train”—a phrase that still survives in our language today.
Those buried in the cemetery include Civil War Veterans, victims of the Chicago fire of 1871, orphans, paupers, and the residents of the asylum for the insane. Most estimates agree that nearly forty thousand people were buried on the grounds. There is no doubt that mental illness is hard on families, but in the 1800s, having a family member who struggled with mental illness was an embarrassment.
With little understanding of mental health in general, and even less compassion for those who suffered, examples of this tragic response to the threat of mental illness can be seen in the numerous inmates who were there simply due to addiction or depression. There are even cases where women were committed because their families were humiliated by their giving birth outside the bonds of marriage. Often times, challenges with mental health were synonymous with the notion of moral failure or vice. Because of this, even many charities looked the other way when corruption or abuse was exposed. Reporters sometimes wrote about the horrors of the institutions, but once the sensational story was out, and the initial outrage worn away, few worried about the people who suffered on a daily basis. And because of the moral implication of mental illness, families commonly turned over their suffering members to the county, and later simply explained to friends that the person had died.
And that is exactly what the mentally ill would do in the institution. Live there until they died, forgotten. And that’s how the story played out at Dunning, until late in the 1900s when developers began to dig the roads and foundations for a new neighborhood on the grounds of what was once the Asylum. At that time, Dunning, and the people who had resided there, were still within living memory, so when bones were unearthed, it was no mystery how they ended up on that patch of land.
What had slipped from memory was the magnitude of the collective stories of suffering and hardship. For this novel, the people and events are fictitious. However, when examining old news stories from an institution known for corruption, it is not hard to imagine situations like the ones in the novel. The details that are true are the nearly one thousand inmates, no hot water, little to no heat in the winter, bad food, and the general feeling of living ghosts, intentionally forgotten, and doomed to never leave the grounds.
Here are Cara's remaining blog stops:
March 11: Reading is my Superpower
March 12: amandainpa
March 12: Locks, Hooks, and Books
March 13: Texas Book-aholic
March 14: Carpe Diem
March 15: Maureen's Musings
March 16: Blogging with Carol
March 16: Two Points of Interest
March 17: Proud to be an Autism Mom
March 17: A Greater Yes
March 18: Bibliophile Reviews
March 18: Debbie's Dusty Deliberations
March 19: Janice's Book Reviews
March 19: Jeanette's Thoughts
March 20: Simple Harvest Reads
March 20: Pursuing Stacie
March 21: For the Love of Books
March 21: Big Reader Site
To celebrate her tour, Cara is giving away a grand prize of a signed copy of Soul’s Prisoner and sketching art supplies!!
Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/cb74