By Kathy Hepinstall and Becky Hepinstall Hilliker

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (March 3, 2015)

Reviewed by Stefanie Kamerman

Sisters of ShilohSisters of Shiloh, co-authored by two sisters Kathy Hepinstall and Becky Hepinstall Hilliker, is a stunning new novel about the bonds of love and the bondage of sisterhood.

September 1862. Libby reads a letter from her husband, Arden, who enlisted in the Confederate army the year prior. A short time later, Libby discovers Arden fought in a battle near by and is desperate to seek him out. Josephine goes with Libby to help find Arden and hopes to protect her from what may come. It is Josephine who discovers a dying Arden. Libby comes to Arden’s side minutes too late.

Racked with grief, Libby vows to avenge her husband’s death by killing twenty-one Union soldiers, one for each year of his short life. Libby cuts her hair, binds her chest, and uses Arden’s clothes and begins her new life as a solider named Thomas.

Once again, Josephine follows Libby and assumes the role of the eldest sister. Instead of making a vow to kill Union soldiers, she vows to protect Libby twenty-one times from death. Like Libby, she undergoes a superficial transformation and joins the army under the name Joseph. Upon joining the Confederate army, the sisters tell the enlister they are from Shiloh though the town doesn’t exist.

Tensions run high between the two sisters. Libby, still devastated by the loss of Arden, begins to see his ghost. Arden’s ghost forces a wedge between the sisters by trying to convince Libby her sister is a killer just like she is. Libby goes back and forth on the matter. Is her sister a killer? What really did happen on the battlefield that day Arden died?

Against all odds, Josephine falls in love with a fellow soldier, Wesley. Josephine debates if she should tell Wesley her real identity, but struggles with wanting to stay true to her sister. Libby is furious when she finds out about Josephine’s feelings for Wesley, and Arden’s ghost is all too happy to further press the matter that Josephine is a killer.

Haunting and provocative, Sisters of Shiloh takes you to the battlefields of Virginia and Maryland during the Civil War. With themes of war, vengeance, love and loyalty, Sisters of Shiloh will make you ponder just how far you would go to protect to the one you love the most and make you consider the bonds of sisterhood.


 

Stefanie Kamerman is a contributing editor of LitChat. Read her complete bio here.