by Michelle Isenhoff
Book 1: Ella Wood
Though she left Charleston a spoiled daughter of the South, Emily returns from her stay in the North a changed young woman. Her assumptions about slavery have been shattered, and her secret dream of attending university has blossomed into fierce ambition. As the passions sweeping North and South toward war threaten to envelop the city she loves, Emily must battle her father’s traditional expectations in her own bid for freedom. Meanwhile, the real fight may lie within her heart, which stubbornly refuses to accept that a choice for independence must be a choice against love.
“There are various defining moments that instruct and impact the heart and mind so much with a single image–a fitting thing, given that Emily is an artist who captures life in her sketches.”
“The author paints a vivid picture of the south and all it’s beauty and blemishes at the time slavery was a cherished and embedded custom.”
“When a story is both well-researched and a tells a vivid, breathing story, magic happens. Such was the case with Ella Wood.”
Available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble
Book 2: Blood Moon
Charleston lies in ruins and so, it seems, does Emily’s future. She has sacrificed everything for a chance to attend university—her family, her home, even her relationship with Thaddeus Black. But without her father’s blessing, how will she afford tuition? With hostilities raging between North and South, how will she gain acceptance at a school in the Union? She’s lost so much already. What will the war claim next? In the midst of such uncertainty, Emily finds that hope can rise from ashes, determination grows with adversity, and love can take root in even the most stubborn of hearts.
“Isenhoff’s brilliant writing is matched only by her diligent research. There are so many moments when the ugliness of the history and the beauty of the language collide to make me think about things in a new light.”
“I’ve been teaching about the Civil War every year for the last decade or so, I still learned a lot. I would recommend this book to students in middle school and high school, and to adults who enjoy historical fiction or just want to learn more about that time period in a fun way.”
“A fabulous mix of historical novel with romance.”
CIR: What inspired this book?
ISENHOFF: I wrote a stand alone middle grade book in 2011 entitled The Candle Star that was well received by a general adult readership. I began receiving emails asking “What happens to Emily?” Ella Wood is the result of those reader prompts. (You need not read The Candle Star to enjoy Ella Wood, but all digital editions are free.)
CIR: Did this require any research, and what kind?
ISENHOFF: Ella Wood takes place in Charleston, SC during the Civil War. I was lucky enough to spend a week on site, touring the city and nearby plantations. I also spent hours and hours researching online and reading through thick library tomes. I view it as a treasure hunt. It’s fascinating what I uncover, and every little bit adds authenticity to my story.
CIR: Is there any content that some readers might find questionable despite the overall “clean” feel of the book?
ISENHOFF: Yes. Though The Candle Star was middle grade, readers have been mostly adult. So I bumped Ella Wood up into the YA category. Slavery, dealt with so carefully in my middle grade book is portrayed in a much harsher light, and some themes are adult in nature. Specifically, there is an “off-screen” sexual attack.