Thornton Guthrie works his father's land at gunpoint. The year is 1834, and men of the establishment have total control over their kin. Escaping is out of the question. Estranged from his abused mother, Thornton lives in isolation.
That changes when Thornton’s father buys three slaves, William, Ronan, and Henry. Thornton loathes slavery and realizes that for the first time in fifteen years, his father—and his father’s rifle—are outnumbered. Thornton dreams of joining forces with the men to plot an escape, but as the slave-owner’s son, he must convince the men he is on their side while under the watchful barrel of his father’s gun. He discovers he has something unexpected in common with thirty-six-year-old William and hazards a dangerous initial contact, hoping it won’t cost him everything. Thornton’s bravery sets in motion an audacious escape plan that, through a deadly turn of events, becomes a race against the clock further complicated by a crafty interloper on Guthrie Farms, Thornton’s ill-timed first romance, and the lethal secret of one of the captives.
A tale of treachery, bondage, fellowship, and courage, Wake Not the Hangman depicts how one young man’s desire to escape his wretched father leads to a much bigger quest: freedom for a band of newfound friends confined by servitude and the law. INCLUDES READER'S GUIDE.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Wake Not The Hangman, by Deborah Leigh, chronicles a tale of escape and true love amidst the danger of being caught and hanged for helping slaves run away. Thornton Guthrie’s life changes when Hezzy Jones, a slave owner of over twenty slaves walks onto the Guthrie farm and sells Marcus Guthrie, his abusive trigger happy father, his three slaves: William, Henry, and Ronan. Thornton develops a close friendship with William, a literate slave, and often slips him books to read. Later on, the two of them plot to escape the Guthrie farm along with his mother, Henry, and Ronan. With the help of Hiram Elliot, a strong abolitionist, they free all the slaves on Jones’ property. Upon killing Marcus Guthrie out of self-defense when his father tries to kill him, William, and his mother, Thornton and the rest of the newly freed slaves decide to flee to freedom while he attempts to outrun the law and hanging as a consequence for aiding the abolitionist cause. Nevertheless, in the end of the novel the law catches up to him despite the fact that the slaves have escaped when he is sent to the gallows. Wake Not the Hangman is a fast-paced read with a lot of action and an easy to follow plot line. However, its portrayals of violence often interspersed between chapters describing the abuse that Rose Guthrie is subjugated to at the hands of her husband, Marcus Guthrie, takes some attention away from the narrative and presents a stark juxtaposition in tone from the rest of the story. Laura Hu Apex Reviews