Thanks to the publisher & Netgalley for the complimentary ARC; all opinions provided are my own.
Sarah Bird’s Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen tells an exciting story featuring an indomitable heroine who forges her own warrior path that harkens back to her female ancestors before her.
Cathy Williams is the granddaughter of an African warrior queen & raised by her mother to believe that she’s not a slave: she’s a captive.
In 1864, when Union soldiers led by Sheridan stop by the plantation where she’s held captive, she’s assumed to be a man & becomes contraband of the army where she’ll serve as a cook’s assistant.
What follows is a series of adventures in the army, where she’s eventually revealed to be a woman, followed by her service as a Buffalo Soldier after she cuts her hair & takes on the name of William Cathay.
Told later, when Cathy’s an older woman living in Colorado, Cathy’s story is vivid & revealed by a voice that leaps off the page. African history & culture—as seen particularly through her grandmother’s & mother’s stories & their words Cathy remembers—are critical to Cathy’s story & to how she sees herself: Black women can & do anything, including take on Rebel soldiers, make new lives for themselves, & serve their country.
The book compellingly explores tensions within Cathy’s unit & the unique pressures facing Black soldiers. I found her emotional responses regarding how she identifies as a woman & the gender & racial constraints she faces to be particularly moving.
While I appreciate how Cathy’s views toward Native Americans grow more complicated over time, her degrading reference to homosexuality & overall attitude toward it is disconcerting and lacks nuance, to say the least, particularly given that Lem has been one of the most understanding & generous figures in the book toward her. I think that more could have been done with this aspect of the novel, especially since it comes up over & over again.
Thanks to the publisher for this ARC.
3.5 ⭐️. Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen is available now.
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