In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree

In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree

by Michael A. McLellan

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In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree by Michael A. McLellan

In 1865 a shadow hovers over the nation: the shadow lingers still...

Born into slavery, Henry’s young life is spent working in tobacco drying sheds on Missouri plantations. Freed at the onset of the Civil War, he's alone, starving, and on the run from Confederate militiamen.

Five years later, Clara Hanfield, the daughter of a powerful New York shipping magnate, escapes her tyrannical father and travels west in pursuit of John Elliot, the man she loves. John, a U.S. Army lieutenant, was sent to the Dakota Territory where he discovers a government conspiracy to incite an all-out war with the Indians; a war meant to finally eliminate them as an obstacle to the westward expansion.

Henry finds himself caught in the middle.

Aided by Clara, John, and his native ally, Standing Elk, Henry must battle hatred, greed, and the ghosts of his past during this turbulent and troubling time in American history.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780989709897
Publisher: Sweet Candy Press
Publication date: 04/26/2017
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 266
File size: 3 MB

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In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
JBronder 5 months ago
Henry is a slave that grew up working in the tobacco sheds in plantations and is freed at the start of the Civil War just to find himself prosecuted by prejudice and hatred. He quickly finds himself in trouble yet finds help in an unlikely place. This leads him down a new path in life as a guide then an advocate for the Indians. At the same time we follow the story of disgraced soldier John Elliot and Clara Hanfield. Clara’s father forbids their love and tries to send John west hoping Clara will find someone new. This backfires when Clara decides to go looking for John herself. There we meet as John and Henry find a government conspiracy to get rid of the Indian’s for good. This is a wonderful look at a very dark period in our history. Henry is thrown into this hard world and quickly finds himself at the hangman’s noose. Although he is looked down on, he changes his world and becomes a guide and an advocate for the Indians that helped him. John is a disgrace and can focus on nothing but how to improve his status. But when he learns of the government’s plan to eradicate the Indians he knows it’s more to help those in need than his social standing. Thank goodness Clara was there to help him. I admit that I don’t usually read historical stories but I was drawn to this book by the description. I think it is because it’s an area of history that is not usually written about. I was drawn in and found myself unable to put this book down. It is very realistic and I couldn’t wait to see what happened next. I think this is a great story and one that should be checked out. I received a complimentary copy of this book. I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.
Anita Moore 8 months ago
“In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree” by Michael A. McLellan is a historical drama with the societal/political views and class divisions of the American Civil War as its backdrop. The book opens in Missouri; the year is 1861, merely five months after the beginning of the Civil War. Henry and his woman Eliza, two slaves owned by Samuel Cromwell have just been given their “Freedom Papers”. Unlike so many others they have just been given the chance at a new life...if they can make it to the North safely. Cadet John Elliot and Clara Hanfield are two young lovers who want to marry and begin their lives together but Clara’s overbearing father discovers their illicit affair and is outraged beyond reason. He expects better than a mere Cadet for his daughter and spitefully uses his powerful connections to arrange to have John removed from West Point in disgrace. Soon John finds himself prematurely promoted to Lieutenant and on his way to Fort Laramie in the Dakota Territory, a wild and untamed expanse full of “savages” far from New York and Clara. Standing Elk and his Cheyenne hunting party come across a dark skinned man who had fallen off his horse and been gravely injured one day while they were chasing a group of Pawnee raiders across the open Kansas prairie. Carefully they pick the injured man up and transport him back to their camp in Colorado where Standing Elk tend to his wounds and eventually begins to view the man as a brother. Here we have three stories each with important characters whose lives and storylines intertwine throughout a wild backdrop in a beautiful way. Illustrating masterfully to this reader that hate is something taught or earned and it often follows us through the ages. Indians didn’t mistrust a black man they came across, they helped him. They didn’t judge him by the color of his skin but they did judge the white man in this story. Why? Because the white man made deals with the Indians they didn’t keep and they killed their people, their food and destroyed their villages...they taught them to hate them. In many ways the white man brought the Dog Soldiers down on their own heads. There are so many parallels to what is going on in America today in this story, I could list them but that would take too much time. If you read this book, you’ll see exactly what I mean. Do you look at someone and instantly judge who they are and what they mean to you without even knowing them? Many do. Are you able to cross societal or political divides...or do you do what is comfortable out of habit? You see, this to me is the underlying tone to this book. It’s not merely a story of characters who weave in and out of one another’s lives. No, there are divides crossed, assumptions banished and perceptions altered and eventually...characters make changes. This is what I liked best about Mr. McLellan’s “In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree”. Aside from the parallel to today’s culture and the unavoidable truth that we really haven’t come all that far, I also enjoyed the pace of this book. The author manages to weave all of these storylines in and out at a pace that really kept my attention. I guess I could say I enjoyed the “beat” of the story to borrow a musical term as Mr. McLellan took me from storyline to storyline until they intersected and their stories were brought neatly home at the end. I really found it to be a very enjoyable read. So, you may be asking “why didn’t you give it 5 stars, you obviously liked it?” Honestly, maybe I’m just b
aiasminor More than 1 year ago
The Shadow of the Hanging Tree follows the life of an unfortunate freed slave named Henry and his journey in finding himself as a man. Henry’s journey starts by gaining his freedom from his old master as the Civil War comes to an end. He experiences the harsh realities of being an African American in the South during post civil war times. During this time Henry experiences loss, hatred, and the fear of being caught by those who do not care for him because of the color of his skin. After being chased and injured, Henry is found and helped by the Cheyenne Indian Tribe and Chief Black Elk who helps him overcome the hatred in his heart.   Running parallel to his story is the love story between Clara Hanfield and John Elliot who’s love is forbidden by Clara’s father who sends John away. John eventually meets Henry and with his help and the help they discover government conspiracy and work together to fight against it. The author does a fantastic job mixing the heart break, romance, adventure and history in to one book and keeps the reader wanting more.  This book kept me captivated and engaged, it was hard to put it down. There were only a few times I was bored reading the book and I would love to read it again. One of my favorite times in history to study and read about is the Civil War and the wild west. I love how Micheal A. McLellan brings the reader back to this time in history through the descriptions of the setting, clothing, and even the drawing of a bath.  I would not recommend this book for young or sensitive audiences due to the graphic nature of some descriptions and sexual content within the text. It is an excellent book for those who love romance, adventure, thrills, and action with a twist of wild west history.   The author did a good job capturing the personalities of each of the characters, giving Henry a sad but likable personality, writing him in a way that allows the reader to feel pity but also disappointment in some of Henry’s actions. He will enable you to explore the strength Clara carries through her journey a distaste for her father. The careful way each character is written allows the reader to feel a variety of emotions. This aspect of his writing helped keep me engaged and interested while reading.   I give this book five stars for many reasons. I was captivated by the stories, and never left bored or wondering why certain things happened. Micheal A. McLennan always brought the story back to the main character and gave a reason for every event, even the most tragic. I recommend this book to adult audiences and those who enjoy history but warn young and sensitive readers to read with discretion as some scenes are graphic and hard to read. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree, by Michael A. McLellan, is a western, historical fiction novel primarily set in Missouri, the Kansas Territory and State, and the Dakota Territory. It covers a period of time spanning to both sides of the American Civil War. The novel's central themes are of redemption, unimaginable loss, and the limitless human capacity for both good and evil. The novel contains a number of central and secondary characters, each with a compelling story. The novel begins with Henry being awoken by his master, Samuel Cromwell, who presents him and his common-law wife, Eliza, with their freedom papers. Cromwell believed that owning people was wrong and wants to protect the two of them. Henry and Eliza flee, and things go horribly wrong for the both of them. Henry is traumatized by the experience, but manages to survive and eventually spends time with the American Indians of the region and an outpost of American soldiers. John Elliot is a disgraced military officer, who in a turn of fate, luck, and by having a powerful father, is dismissed early from the US Military Academy at West Point. Yet, he is still commissioned as a Lieutenant. He is sent to serve in the Dakota Territory under the command of Colonel Frank Picton, and they are tasked with eliminating the Indian threat in the Dakota Territory. John is a conflicted character, wanting to serve, but he also has a moral standard that sets him apart from his peers. Clara Hanfield is the reason why John was dismissed from West Point. She and John had a consensual, sexual relationship that hardly anyone today would even blink at today, but in 1865 it was exceedingly scandalous. Clara's father, Jonathan Hanfield, is a vile human being, who is violent towards his wife and daughter. Clara is eventually able to escape and make her way west to be with John, but horrible things happen to her as well, along the way. Frank Picton is the garrison commander of Fort Laramie, and he is another evil human being. He is tasked with eliminating the “Indian threat” in the Dakota Territory, and goes to great lengths to do so. He has some strange relationships with his subordinates. Not all the troops at Fort Laramie are Union soldiers, many are Confederate prisoners. Picton views the Confederacy a grave threat to the United States, but sees the Indians as even worse and lower than the Confederate rebels. Theo Brandt is what today might be called a “fixer.” Clara's father wants his daughter back and has dispatched Theo to perform the task. Theo is charismatic, evil, wealthy, and is not afraid of collateral damage or of killing anyone who gets in his way. To aid in his search for Clara, Brandt hires a crew of ruffians who are skilled at tracking, and share in his penchant for vile and no-holds-barred behavior. In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree is certainly for mature readers, but it is accessible for mature teens who are interested in the human element of the Civil War era. There are numerous instances of human suffering, violent sexual assault, racism, bigotry, misogyny, alcohol use, and violent deaths. The only complaint that I have with the novel is the lack of time and location transitions, which can leave the reader confused as to when and where the action is taking place. Overall, it is an excellent read for those interested in American, historical fiction of the Civil War period, but not actually on the Civil War.
Literary_Titan More than 1 year ago
In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree, by Michael A. McLellan, takes place in the 1860s and revolves around the lives of three people trying desperately to find their way in post-Civil War America. Henry, a man freed from slavery but never free from the horrors he endured, finds himself assisting Clara Hanfield in her quest to reunite with Lieutenant John Elliott, the man she loves and her father loathes. All three are caught up in the government’s plot to push the Native Americans from their land once and for all. Fate has dealt quite the hand to Henry, and his introduction to Clara and her mission to find John poses yet another obstacle to Henry’s quest to find the freedom and peace he deserves. McLellan’s writing is simply breathtaking. The richness of the language he gives his characters immediately reels in the reader. The exchanges between Henry and Eliza are tender, and her early attempts to refine his speaking habits are affectionate and determined. The trials the two endure to survive as slaves in the South and their attempt to escape the lynch mobs running rampant tore at my heart. McLellan’s words ring all too true. Henry and Eliza’s story is painful, tragic, and well-crafted to convey the horrific circumstances of the era. Clara’s rescue by Henry is one of those moments in the book worth rereading. Henry, for all intents and purposes, is making amends in any way he can for the loss he has suffered and the guilt he feels for that loss. Sweeping in and pulling Clara from the hands of the enemy, Henry begins a friendship he never could have seen coming. Theirs is a touching relationship punctuated with fleeting moments of light-hearted banter and anchored with fear and a fierce desire on both their parts to find their way to the right side of things. Clara, described as being much like her father, uses it to her advantage as she faces insurmountable challenges on her journey with Henry. Hers is a character refreshingly unlike any other I have read in the genre of historical fiction. Randall breaks my heart. He is one of those characters the reader will root for from his first appearance. Without giving away too much of Randall’s subplot, I will say that from those first moments of indecision with Clara at West Point. I wanted to see Randall come out on top. The backstory involving his own child and his love for Clara makes for a unique connection and offers the reader all the more reason to admire Randall. I am giving In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree an enthusiastic 5 out of 5 stars. McLellan has written a piece of historical fiction incorporating elements for every reader. His plotlines involving a family divided and the tragedy surrounding Henry’s life as a slave intertwine to create a beautiful story of friendship, trust, and stand as a testament to the strength of the human spirit. I highly recommend this book to any fan of novels from the Civil War era. McLellan’s characters are truly unforgettable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree by Michael A. McLellan is one of those books that really leaves an impact. I didn't want to keep reading it, but neither could I put it down. I didn't really want to read it, not because it was bad, far from it, but because it was heartbreaking. We probably say those words far too often, but this book really justifies the use of the phrase. Don't let that put you off though because it really is a must-read book. It is set in the 1860's, after the American Civil War, and spans a number of years. It is not a period of American history that I am familiar with, so it was a bit of an eye-opener. It follows the story of Henry and Eliza and starts when they are freed from slavery. Just thrown out of the door with no idea of how to look after themselves. It seems almost incredible now, that this could happen. People who were born into slavery, have never looked after themselves, just sent on their way. Even more incredible, is the idea that there were white men roaming the country, looking to hang them. The author really makes you feel the hatred that people had for them, but it just seems baffling now. Henry steals a horse from a man and injures him, maybe fatally, in the process. He is then being chased when he falls from his horse. He ends up being cared for by and living with, Indians. He discovers an affinity with horses, and so becomes a scout with the military. There is a consecutive story with another couple. When you are first introduced to John, it is hard to like him. He is a cadet and rather than being thrown out for doing something wrong, he is given a commission. The reason he was thrown out is due to having a relationship with Clara Hanfield. She is the daughter of a rich and powerful man in New York. Clara's father is a bully and treats both her and her mother extremely badly. It is distressing to read about the power that rich men had, and the fact that women had no say in anything and had to do as they were told. By men. Clara runs away and goes in search of John. Although Clara has not had an easy life, it is hard to warm to her as she really is the archetypal poor little rich girl. She treats people badly and expects them to do what she wants, even to the detriment of their own lives and livelihoods. John and Henry meet up, then Clara and Henry meet up as you start thinking that Clara will never find John. John is fighting his conscience when he discovers a conspiracy to get rid of the Indians. This is when you really warm to him. Eventually, Clara and John meet up. The characters in this book are outstanding and you are really drawn to them. You really care about their trials and tribulations and want them to prevail. There are some very sad parts and some terrible bits, and overall it is a sad book. However, it is enthralling and will draw you in. I highly recommend that you read it. You won't be disappointed.
PylesofBooks More than 1 year ago
A rare historical fiction treat! Michael McLellan’s novel, In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree, is a dramatic revealing of 1865 and the aftermath of the civil war. Told from the perspective of a freed slave, Henry and the daughter of a New York magnate, Clara Hanfield, the reader is taken on an intimate and often tension laced adventure in the frontier of the new west. Clara’s love, John, a U.S. lieutenant, stumbles on a conspiracy to incite an all out war with the Indians in the Dakota Territories. It would eliminate the obstacle the Native Americans have created in the United States’ expansion west, but at a terrible cost. Henry is caught in the middle and with the aid of his new allies in Clara, John and his native friend Standing Elk, he may be able to confront the demons of his past and the demons of the present. This story is one that at times appears to tread over much of the same ground as others that have gone before, but in some ways this is much more refreshing by recasting the aftermath of the Civil War and taking it out into the wild west. The plight of the Native Americans, especially during this time mirrors the struggle that African Americans suffered if nto to a lesser degree and the unification of Henry’s struggle with that of Standing Elk’s is a welcome alliance against the often tyrannical officials of this time. The subplot of Clara and John is somewhat needed to bring in readers, who can’t find such common ground with Henry, but they are also welcome players in a drama that can seemingly demonize one side or the other. The style of McLellan makes this book feel more YA historical fiction, which I believe works to the narrative’s advantage. It helps bring the reader close to Henry’s struggle and feelings throughout the book and helps advance the emotional connection we feel towards these characters. I think the skill of prose and the use of language is also on McLellan’s side in order to stay within history’s bounds. The title of the novel may seem to cast a morbid pall over the book, but it is for the larger message here, I believe that McLellan carries through. Our current cultural struggle demands a look at the plight of those less fortunate and this intimate lens turned on Henry is to help us in that endeavour. Any reader of YA or historical fiction will enjoy this book, but also the reader of intimate dramas may also enjoy this work as well.
RaeCapri More than 1 year ago
Different ethnic groups amongst us and we’re supposed to already have devised a plan that can allow everyone to coexist, in unity. Unfortunately, not ever feels the same, or possess the love to care for someone who is indifferent, or do they? In “In The Shadow of the Hanging Tree”, author Michael A. McLellan emerges his readers in the lives of two particular individuals, who are on opposite sides of any spectrum that dare exists. Surprisingly enough, they’re opposite in genders, opposite in financial standing, opposite in racial backgrounds, and opposite in their way of life since birth. Meeting Henry, a Black male born into slavery, and Clara Hanfield, a Caucasian female born into wealth. Although they have different stories, their circumstances allowed these two to cross paths, where they benefited from each other. Not knowing what would become of it, these two befriended each other rather quickly, even build a sort of bond of trust, and respect for the other. By being at the right place at the right time, we can easily consider them allies, even throughout all the chaos going on around them. One thing while reading was discovering how the Native Americans were being treated during these times. The way the Americans were following orders that were allegedly granted by the US government was very disturbing. Even so much that innocent people were being killed, especially the women and children, oh those poor babies. We also understand that there have been treaties created that negotiated terms, we signed, but not carried out as promised, which makes both parties guilty. This demonstrates that terms in agreements can be easily dismissed or handled however one chooses, leaving it as free-range of discrepancies for the lives who neither wanted to comply or disagree. One can only hope that things can be communicated better and people actually stay true to their word. Unfortunately, you come to learn that many characters, militants and Indian soldiers alike, are going against commanders and doing whatever they like. No ethnic group can afford any of theirs going rogue, it really can put major dampers on the future of the world. The beginning startled me because I wasn’t expecting to witness a perspective of slaves. I was then immediately drawn to Henry and Clara out of empathy for what both of them were going through. The writing style of the author invoked such emotional ties to these characters that I wished I could’ve been able to help each of them in their lowest moments. I was more and more relieved as I continued reading because the hope they both had was more than enough to see to it that something works in their favor. I truly enjoyed reading and learning the struggles of what it must’ve been like in the ‘60s. I’ve had quite a few experiences of feeling like I was an extended character witnessing events occur as if I were actually there, the type to give you goosebumps.
Dgunner254 More than 1 year ago
In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree I knew this novel was a must-read as soon as I found out that it was written by Michael McLellan. I have had the pleasure of reading one of his previous books called After and Again which was quite compelling and that I found hard to put down. I was however not even the least prepared for the stunning impact of reading his latest novel In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree. It is one of the most intense and thrilling novels I have laid my hands on and is full of in-depth detail. The book follows the life of the main character Henry that can easily be described as series of unfortunate events which seem to come up one right after the other. Henry was born into slavery, never got to see much of his father and never met his mother. He never got to experience true love up until he met Eliza. Henry and Eliza were later freed from slavery at the end of the civil war, only to be captured again despite having papers to show that they were no longer slaves. Henry however managed to escape leaving Eliza behind. Meanwhile, Clara escapes her father in pursuit of her love, John Elliot, who had been sent to the Dakota Territory. John discovers a government conspiracy to incite a war with the Indians, a war meant to eliminate the Indians as an obstacle in their plans to expand their territories westward. The people in this story are forced into company with each other where they realize that they have a lot of similarities despite their differences. They all have many of the same worries and desires and fight together against the hate war representing the only side that matters – humanity. I think it is important to note and appreciate that the author clearly went well out of his way to do a great amount of historical research prior to writing this novel. The only downside to this is that the information got a bit overwhelming for me in some instances and I got a bit bogged down with some character names and locations. I however loved the way all the cultures and races are brought up in this novel, most people avoid such touchy subjects for fear of negative criticism. After reading the story I was left with a feeling of embitterment over the evil deeds of humanity and the cruelty displayed in the book. The novel really yanks at your emotional side and you can’t help but get deeply involved in both the story and the characters. There is quite a bit of graphic language and a low key level of sexuality making the book only suitable for older teens and adults in my opinion. This book was a great read and kept me intrigued from the moment I turned the first page up till the very last. I highly recommend this novel to those who love the historical genre or those with an interest in American history as it is relevant to the times that we live in today.
Emily_A More than 1 year ago
In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree is one of the most intense and thrilling novels I have ever read. The writing is graceful and just amazing. The story is full of in-depth detail, created a new level of emotion. At times I felt that I was overwhelmed with all what was going on. In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree is developed really well. I love all the cultures and races that were brought up in this novel. It's fascinating to me. You don't see those touchy subjects in books nowadays. It's rare. I love that uniqueness to In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree. Mr. McLellan is a very talented and inspirational writer. He has potential and talent to get big. I personally feel that this novel should be read by book lovers because it's just packed and packed with emotion. Overall I give In the the Shadow of the Hanging Tree four stars.