cover image The Eden Hunter

The Eden Hunter

Skip Horack, Counterpoint (PGW, dist.), $15.95 paper (336p) ISBN 978-1-58243-609-8

Louisiana-born Horack's novel (after The Southern Cross collection) offers a stylish, fast-paced, historical narrative based on an 1816 slave insurrection. Spanish slave traders enter the Congo and purchase a captured Pygmy named Kau, transporting him to Pensacola, Fla., where he's sold to an innkeeper. Five years later, Kau kills the innkeeper's son and flees into the wilds of southern Florida. Along his wilderness trek, Kau regrets the murder, yearns for his family in Africa, and encounters a "Negro fort" on the Apalachicola River built by General Garçon. The remote fort's ostentatious "genius" commander befriends the diminutive Kau, who is allowed to take an escaped slave as his mate. The American victory in the War of 1812 makes Garçon, an ally of the British, a target of the imminent American invasion. While sympathetic to the slaves' desire to be free, Kau realizes the slim chance for success against the Americans; he's more inclined to follow his heart and "live quietly" in Florida than stand with Garçon. This diminutive man serves as a watchful protagonist in Horack's crisp, vivid tale. (Sept.)