by: Andra Watkins
Word Hermit Press LLC Charleston, SC
I tagged this book with “historical fiction” because the characters are certainly historical. The primary character is Theodosia Burr Alston, daughter of Aaron Burr (remembered primarily for killing Alexander Hamilton in a duel). Theodosia died under “mysterious circumstances” and therefore has found herself in Andra Watkins Afterlife series.
Those whose deaths are unresolved find themselves in Nowhere. They have limited memories of the circumstances of their deaths, and no memories of their time in Nowhere. Each has a “conductor” who charges them to help a living person make a better choice in their lives. The dead have 13 chances to find resolution or they will be trapped forever in this in between place.
Theodosia’s life was filled with political intrigue. Her father was tried for treason. Her godfather was probably a spy. She herself was highly educated and involved with many of the movers and shakers of her time. (She makes an appearance in the musical Hamilton.) It is not a surprise that her Afterlife story would also be filled with spies, treason, and political intrigue.
Set in the Hudson River Valley near West Point, the geography and legendary history of the area also play a role in the story. The scenes in New York City revolve around Grand Central Station and its starry skied ceiling. Theodosia is having her past life in 1950. Her mission is to help one of the West Point cadets make a good choice towards a better life.
Unfortunately for Theo, Nowhere is hardly a solitary place. There are several other characters from Theodosia’s life who are also struggling with resolving their deaths. The interplay between what has past and what is happening in the story, still our history, adds to the intrigue and suspense.
Andra’s novels bring historical characters into three dimensions. She makes her characters come to life and places them in settings that contribute to the story telling. Hard to Die grabs the reader from the start and hangs on tightly through all the twists and turns. I’m not sure I like Andra’s Theodosia, but I found her fascinating. Looking forward to more Nowhere novels.
Also by Andra Watkins:
To Life Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis This is Andra’s first novel and the first in the Afterlife series. Meriwether Lewis is quite the character and the harrowing run towards the place of his death along the Natchez Trace adds color and history to the story.
Not Without My Father A memoir of her journey as she walked the Natchez Trace, her father along as her back-up and support.
Natchez Trace: Tracks in Time The photo journal of Andra’s walk