When Two Feathers Fell from the Sky

Margaret Verble. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27 (384p) ISBN 978-0-358-55483-7
In this richly imagined historical from Pulitzer finalist Verble (for Maud’s Line), a young Cherokee woman performs as a horse-diver at an amusement park in Nashville, Tenn. It’s 1926, and automobiles and movies are starting to make electric streetcars and live-entertainment venues obsolete, but Two Feathers’s novelty act is still a big draw at Glendale Park, built at the end of a trolley line. One day, as Two Feathers and her horse are performing, a giant sinkhole opens up and swallows them. Two’s beloved mare, Ocher, dies in the fall, and Two’s leg is broken. With her act no longer possible and her future uncertain, Two recuperates in her dormitory. Her friends rally to her side, notably Hank Crawford, the descendant of enslaved people and a plantation owner. But owning land and having light skin don’t guarantee protection from the deadly dangers of Jim Crow, and Verble shows how Crawford takes various matters into his own hands rather than go to the racist police. Visions of the departed haunt many of these characters, and the dead have an impact on the present. When a hippo dies and a beloved bear cub is found dead, Two discerns how and why they were killed, and, later, after a man is found scalped, prejudice leads some to suspect Two of the murder. Verble beautifully weaves period details with the cast’s histories, and enthralls with the supernatural elements, which are made as real for the reader as they are for the characters. This lands perfectly. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 07/15/2021
Release date: 10/12/2021
Genre: Fiction
Book - 1 pages - 978-0-358-55509-4
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