Friday, April 24, 2009

I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires

Review – I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires
Author Cathy Gohlke
Genre – Historical Fiction
Age – YA- Adult
Notes – 2009 Christy Award Nominee
Publisher – Moody Press

Robert Glover faces more choices in this sequel to William Henry is a Fine Name. This time, we join Robert near his eighteenth birthday at his home in Maryland. The Civil War rages on, and Robert’s father Charles is away, working for the Union making maps. Robert’s mother Caroline has decided to stay on her father’s plantation in North Carolina. Despite his desire to fight for the Union, Robert promised his father that he would not enlist until he turns eighteen.

Emily, Robert’s cousin, asks him to visit her father, an officer in the Confederate army. Uncle Albert is being held as a prisoner of war at Fort Delaware. Robert agrees, due in part to family obligation, but mostly because he loves Emily. After he visits Albert, Robert plans to go help his mother, who he has not seen in four years.

Robert involuntarily gets caught in a prison escape plan, derailing his plans to travel to North Carolina. He is abducted, left for dead, and faces charges as a spy, challenging his integrity, his endurance, and his faith. Robert’s adventures include new friends, a persistent enemy, and even a friend from his past travels on the Underground Railroad.

This book is a roller coaster reading adventure packed with action and intrigue. We see Robert mature and find his place in life while coning to terms with family secrets. I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires is a wonderful story that gives the reader thoughtful insight into days gone by. Robert’s story brings history to life, and it would serve as a great teaching tool for this era. If you liked William Henry is a Fine Name, you are sure to enjoy Cathy Gohlke’s satisfying conclusion to Robert’s story. Pick up a copy; you won’t be disappointed.

Parental Note: I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires contains subject matter pertaining to the realities of war and post Civil War slavery. Depending on the ages and maturity levels of your children, you may wish to preview this book before allowing your children to read it or using it as a read aloud. I recommend this as independent reading for mature preteens and up.

Review by Karen Lange. Karen homeschooled her three children K-12. She is a freelance writer, homeschool consultant, and creator of the Homeschool Online Creative Writing Co-op for teens. Visit her websites at or Review copyright 2009, used with permission.

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