Veil of Fire by Marlo Schalesky is a fictionalized account of the devastating 1894 Minnesota fire that burned 400 square miles and killed 413 people in four hours. It takes place in the real town of Hinckley and uses the real legend of the hermit in the hills that appeared as the town began to rebuild. Since the identity of this mysterious figure was never established, the legends continue to this day.
Schalesky does a wonderful job incorporating this history into the fictional lives of her characters, including how survivors escaped the fire whether in trains, potato patches, mud holes, or water barrels. She relates such details as the sawdust in the river that made even that body of water a death trap for fleeing townspeople. This is a great way to learn about a major historical event, so I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys American history.
But Schalesky does so much more with her characters by using both the fire and the hermit in the hills to explore truth in the face of the lies we live ...
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