The Saints of Swallow Hill

Kensington. Jan. 2022. 384p. ISBN 9781496733320. pap. $15.95. F
During the Great Depression, some who are desperate for work end up at the Swallow Hill Turpentine Camp in Georgia. It’s hard work tapping the pine trees for the resin that will make turpentine, but Del Reese needs a new job after getting caught sleeping with his former employer’s wife. Rae Lynn Cobb is also on the run after killing her husband and gets a job at the camp by pretending to be a man. Crow, a sadistic boss, has it in for Del and Rae Lynn, who are white, since he takes offense to them working with Black colleagues. After rescuing Rae Lynn from one of Crow’s horrific punishments and then finding out she’s a woman, Del soon begins to fall for her. Cornelia, whose abusive husband owns the camp commissary, nurses Rae Lynn back to health, and they agree to join Del at his family homestead in North Carolina, where they slowly begin to contemplate a better future.
VERDICT Everhart’s (The Moonshiner’s Daughter) latest Southern historical novel is full of tragedy and abuse with characters who initially aren’t easy to like, but the story becomes much more appealing as Del and Rae Lynn grow into protagonists to root for, in a unique setting.
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