by Cara Luecht
She’ll fight for her future…but can she escape her past?
Chicago, Winter, 1891
Rachel is in danger. She’s seen too much.
She creeps along the cement walls through the dank underbelly of the asylum. She’d never planned to leave her quiet farm life, never thought she’d find a place in the city, never imagined she’d be in the kind of danger that would have her cowering in Dunning’s cold, labyrinthine basement.
Jenny has finally found her place. After a childhood of abuse, she has friends, a real job, and her only wish is to give her adopted son the kind of life she never had.
A life of stability, without the risk and uncertainty of a father.
But when Jeremy, Rachel’s brother, stumbles into their warehouse, asking for help to find his missing sister, Jenny’s carefully constructed life begins to crumble.
This book has a bit of a dark tone. In fact, the word that came to mind while reading it was gritty.
Author Carla Luecht doesn’t shy away from harsh realities or the consequences of a sin-filled world. Soul’s Prisoner tackles the subjects of abuse, mental illness, and to a lesser extent, prostitution. Yet, in each of these, she offers hope—both for her characters and for her readers.
It took me a bit to get into this story, but I blame that on a couple outside reasons. First, this is the first book by Luecht I’ve read so I wasn’t used to her writing style. Plus, this is book two in a series, so things may have made a bit more sense at the beginning if I’d read the previous story.
Don’t worry if you’re starting here, though, it didn’t take long to connect all the characters. Once that happened, everything fell into place and kept me interested in what was happening to the end. Luecht even managed to surprise me with an unexpected link with the characters near the end of the book. Managing to throw in the unexpected that far into a story always impresses me.
Art, friendship, and family each have a prominent place in Soul’s Prisoner. As do redemption from past sins and forgiveness. Ultimately, Luecht brings light into the dark places and spaces of her character’s lives.
I receive complimentary books from publishers, publicists, and/or authors, including NetGalley. I am not required to write positive reviews. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.
I must confess that I read this series out of order. I read Soul’s Cry, which is the third book in this series, before reading this one (and, shame on me, I haven’t read the first book Soul Painter yet). Though the books are continuations of each other and reading them in order will help the reader put the pieces together in a more fluid order, reading them out of order did not detract from the book. There were enough details in this book to deduce the major points from the first book and figure out the personalities of each major character.
The book is well-written; addresses some really tough issues like the failings of mental institutions in the 1800s and the dejected and forgotten state of those suffering from mental illness, as well as the emotional and physical scars left by trafficking; paints an unflinching picture of life’s disappointments and heartaches and hardships; but overcomes the darkness and grief with a world sweetened by wonderful characters who are deeply devoted to each other in friendship and love and shows the reader the path to redemption and second chances.
There are quite a few characters to sort out in this series, but once you get to know them, every single one of them will leave a lasting impression. The strength of friendship and love found amongst this group of characters is real and heart-warming. The author has a powerful voice with a haunting quality that is perfect for storytelling. Anyone who enjoys a soul-stirring inspirational historical will love this book.
I received a copy of this book from the author/publisher via Celebrate Lit Tour. I was not required to write a favorable review. All comments and opinions are solely my own.
When I started this book the words, eerie, dangerous and evil came to mind. The author captures a time and place that the faint of heart would not survive. As Rachel went down to the basement, I could feel a chill creep down my spine. Her eyes told the story of unspoken evil lurking in air. The writing is superior and takes you right where the story is happening. I can’t imagine being in a place where you had to look over your should every few seconds.
I screamed as Rachel’s freedom was suddenly taken away from her. How can such evil happen with no one to question the outcome? Have you been locked in a room unexpectedly with no way out? You find yourself panicking as tears stream down your face. Rachel seems to lose hope as each day passes . Will someone realize that she is missing? In the late 1850s asylums were like torture chambers. The evil that went on was unspeakable. Rachel is treated with little dignity. I was mesmerized by the details that the author wrote about the evils of asylums that existed long ago. It reminds me of the saying, “If walls could talk.”
Jeremy is a character I found to be very intuitive. He was determined to find out what had happened to his sister. Wouldn’t it be unnerving to have a family member suddenly disappear without a trace? There were times in the book, I wasn’t sure I could continue reading. It wasn’t because the story was bad, but because the story was so masterfully written that it seemed almost real.
Jenny is a very complicated character. Wanting to have a better life for herself and her son seems right in the grasp of her hands. Jenny is haunted by her past and the author gives us pieces of her tormented life with words that reach deep into the soul where darkness is at times. Her story is one that she feels ashamed of and my heart broke for her.
The story is very intense and weaves a tale of mind games that only the strongest can survive. Will Rachel be rescued before it’s to late? What does she know that would cause people to want to hide her? I thought through the entire book how desperate Rachel felt as she saw her freedom slowly slip into oblivion. The ending is one that will have you on the edge of your seat and your heart pounding so loud you can here each beat.
I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. The review is my own opinion.
“Soul’s Prisoner” by Cara Luecht is a fictional story about a real place in history, Dunning Asylum for the Insane was built in the 1850s in Chicago and housed psychiatric patients until the early 1900s. It is also the second book in the “Portraits of Grace” Series, and can be enjoyed as a stand alone but I recommend reading all three in order to get the full background because each story builds on the other and gives the story a richer meaning!
In “Soul’s Prisoner” as the others there is violence but it is not really graphic. These stories are about street ladies and how they overcame their past.
“Soul’s Prisoner” is about a crime that is committed and Rachel stumbles accidentally into by finding a baby and tries to help it but ends up being thrown into Dunning. This is a story of how sometimes listening to others instead of your own heart is the wrong thing to do as in the case of Winston. Hope I have you curious to see who Winston is!
These books are perfect examples of how true love win. The connection between the future and the paintings by Miriam are an interesting part of the story also.
I would like to see more books written about these friends, maybe from the male characters point of view.
These books are a great series.
I was given a complimentary copy by the author and Celebrate Lit. These opinions are my own.