My Brother's Keeper
by Lorrieann Russell
(iUniverse / 0-595-20642-5 / November 2001 / 540 pages / $25.95)
We do things the old-fashioned way here at iUniverse Book Reviews. We don't need no stinking pdf's. We read real books like real men. We like 'em big, heavy, and long. We live to read 500-page, heavily-researched, carefully constructed books like My Brother's Keeper. We don't care if it was released back in 2001 and we don't care if it looks like a rerun of The Traitor's Wife, either. We readers here at the iU corral care only that this book is butt-kickin' good! You will see this critter on a store shelf somewhere in a couple of years. As far as we know, that's a done deal, not a wish upon a star. Get it now before they change the cover designed by Miss Lorrieann herself. The sequel's already out and you better read that one, too.
The copy editor's name is displayed right in the front of this book, and that notation should be filed in the George Bush Department. Say what? The proofreading of the book is clearly its weakest link, somewhat like The Decider in The White House. Although the concept may not have crossed the author's mind when she wrote this big, fat jewel, especially considering the date of its release, the story will scare you silly with its allegorical connections with the modern theocracy Bush has created.
The tale of historical fiction is set in Scotland in the early 1600's. Deeply set behind the scenes so ably conjured in the novel is a king who has given his blessing to the powers of the church. The local bishop of Stonehaven revels in the terror his band of witch hunters brings down on the local citizenry. Edward, The Duke of Stonehaven, has been living in denial for years while the injustice, terror, and torture has permeated his segment of the kingdom. The duke enjoys a pleasant lifestyle within the walls of Drumoak Castle, at least until the men in black hoods turn their focus on the residents of Stonehaven. The main storyline surrounds a young man who had been orphaned at an early age, raised by his older brother and the brother's wife until the age of twelve. At that time, young William Fylbrigge was brought to Drumoak Castle to continue his education into life by Edward and his staff. The story opens with William's marriage to Edward's daughter, but the plot thickens rapidly from that point. Here are a few clues. William was raised until he was twelve by his new bride's older sister. His older brother is a greedy turd, and William's nickname for his brother's wife is the dragon. Remember, the dragon raised him as his mom. Did she, now? The plot thickens, and thickens, and thickens.
What we have here is an obvious comparison with Susan Higginbotham's The Traitor's Wife, Anne Rice's The Witching Hour (and her continuing stories of The Mayfair Witches), and Arthur Miller's play, The Crucible. There are clear elements of all of these quality works within the story of My Brother's Keeper. Ms. Rice writes from the perspective of the witches not as villains. So does Ms. Russell. Mr. Miller's play is completely centered around the legendary events in Salem in 1692, about ninety years past the fictional novel set in Scotland. Ms. Higginbotham filled in the unknown parts of a true story of the British Royal Family. My Brother's Keeper is certainly no better than these works, but it deserves a nearly equal, prominent location on your bookshelf. The prequel to this book is on the way from a traditional publisher. My Brother's Keeper and its sequel, In the Wake of Ashes, are scheduled for re-release at some undisclosed date in the future. Remember, you read it here first at iUniverse Book Reviews!
Lorrieann Russell is also a graphic-artist computer-nerd. She has created representations of many characters and scenes from her novels. You can visit this link to see many of Lorrieann's artistic depictions. She has created not only her own covers, but she does covers for other authors as well.
See also: Interview with Lorrieann Russell
Review of the sequel, In the Wake of Ashes