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When Trees Fall (Dale Mahfood)
Historical Fiction available for Free on Substack
In the past few months, I have read two long-form historical novels available for free on Substack. This week, I want to tell you about the first of them: When Trees Fall by Dale Mahfood the writer of.
Next week, I will introduce you to the second remarkable find, Of Wind and Wolves by.
When Trees Fall (Dale Mahfood) is set in seaside Jamaica during the anxieties of the Second World War, but at a geographical distance from its horrors and the Jamaicans’ British colonizers. Jamaica is on the cusp of change, but no one knows exactly how to navigate it. Into this background, Dale Mahfood immerses the reader in the critical turnings of his three main characters.
We are anxious with Catlin, the daughter of a wealthy landowner as she transforms from tomboy to young woman, self-conscious of her changes in interest and grappling with her first experience of heartbreak. We feel the anger of young Archie, the mixed-race son of a single mother, as he struggles with his identity and growing independence into a self-determining young man. We grieve with Sharpe, the newly appointed estate foreman, as he seeks vengeance in dark powers, stumbling between the paths of justice and mercy. A series of letters from the past intersperse the chapters, gradually filling out the context for the reader and the story’s three point-of-view characters. Along the way, each faces answers to questions they might have rather left undiscovered.
Through it all, Dale weaves their crises together while pulling the reader further into their world and worldview. This setting was a time and place I knew nothing of yet Dale presented it in full dimension. I became increasingly invested in the external and internal outcomes of each character. They took on an existence in my thoughts between readings.
I met Dale early in my Substack efforts, thrilled to find a like-minded writer. He was born in Jamaica and so brings a fresh authenticity to his story. When Trees Fall is Book One of his Wood and Water Saga. He has committed 10% of the sales profits from this book to Food for the Poor, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to "help the materially poor and to renew the poor in spirit" in seventeen Caribbean and Latin American countries.
Many readers of this newsletter are writers who inhabit the strange and growing world of Substack as fellow newsletter creators. Others of you are writers and readers who may not be aware of Substack’s offerings beyond noticing that some of the emails you receive, whether on writing, politics, culture, or any old thing, have Substack links embedded here and there. Others of you have likely not even noticed Substack’s entry into your inbox because Substack’s basic format is intentionally clean and simple.
When I first signed in to Substack online, I was surprised to find that I already had an Inbox with a dozen or so newsletters in my feed. These were from people and organizations I had found elsewhere. I had signed up for their emails, neither knowing nor caring that their platform was Substack.
What fewer people know is that there is a growing number of fiction writers gathering here.
And, in order for writers and readers to find each other, two generous Substackers have created a separate newsletter/Substack site called, The Library.
In this library, you can find fiction that has been uploaded to Substack under genre categories such as Science Fiction, Romance, Fantasy, Literary, and, of course, Historical. Many of these stories are free. Some are only available to paying subscribers of that writer’s newsletter. Some are also published as ebooks and/or print books and available for purchase elsewhere, such as writers’ direct sales websites, Amazon, Bookshop.org, etc.
It was in The Library that I found the two full-length novels noted above. When Trees Fall by Dale Mafhood, and Of Wind and Wolves by J.M. Elliott, another marvelous telling of Long Ago & Far Away.
Have you read any fiction on Substack yet? Are you planning to publish fiction on Substack?
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