Night Watch

Books on Tape Sept. 2023. 10:13 hrs. ISBN 9780593787939. $85.50. F
Phillips’s (Quiet Dell) striking latest interlaces Civil War–era history with an exquisite examination of abuse, family, and loss. In 1874, ConaLee and her traumatized mother, Eliza, are dropped off at the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum by a man whom ConaLee knows as Papa, although he is anything but. The night watchman welcomes the pair inside; later, Eliza begins to heal and get stronger, cared for by the facility’s kind staff. Phillips allows listeners glimpses of the past, describing Eliza’s journey to the high ridges of the Allegheny Mountains and her husband, who was gravely wounded in battle and never returned to them. Alone and unprotected, Eliza and ConaLee were then preyed upon by a Rebel deserter, who terrorized them, causing Eliza to stop speaking altogether and precipitating her arrival at the asylum. Narrator Karissa Vacker employs a gentle Southern accent for ConaLee and expertly voices her lyrically described thoughts and memories as revealed secrets chart a new path forward. Theo T. Stockman and Maggi-Meg Reed also offer versatile performances, providing a variety of voices for the other characters in Phillips’s troubled landscape.
VERDICT A powerful listen for those seeking meditative and haunting historical fiction. Share with fans of Jennifer Cody Epstein’s The Madwomen of Paris.
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