Karen Barnett’s Through the Shadows brings the San Francisco of the early 1900s to life. You can walk the streets of Chinatown with Elizabeth, and you can explore Golden Gate Park and the city’s other treasures with her and Charles. This novel does what I love best about historical fiction – it takes pieces of real history, adds characters who very well could have lived then, and draws you in with a story that brings those days to life.
Elizabeth strives to atone for her past by teaching children at the Presbyterian Mission, while Charles searches to find himself in a city full of potential wrong choices. Their path to redemption and one another is fraught with twists and past hurts so realistically rendered that you’ll find pieces of yourself as you read. There’s also a lot of actual history in this book, like Donaldina Cameron’s efforts to rescue young Chinese girls and women from a life of slavery. Barnett does an excellent job of weaving fictional characters and historical persons together in a fascinating story.
You’ll enjoy these characters and San Francisco’s iconic history even if you haven’t read the preceding two novels in the Golden Gate Chronicles. I did wish for a bit more from the setting, although Chinatown was depicted well.
My rating: 3.5/5 stars
Recommended for: those who have been enjoying the Golden Gate Chronicles and Karen Barnett’s other novels; fans of historical fiction with a faith element; history lovers who don’t mind a bit of creative license; those who love to imagine another era for a few hours
Note: I received a copy of this novel via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.