Review: Karen Kondazian, The Whip

When more than three people recommend a book, you should definitely read it. Karen Kondazian’s The Whip received many positive words from others, so I thought I’d give it a try. The novel tells the story of the legendary Charley Parkhurst, who, as a woman, left her northeast town after her former slave husband and their child were murdered, to pursue the killer. She dresses as a man to earn a position as a whip, or stagecoach driver. In California, she must hide her identity, while meeting some colorful characters along the way.

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The first thing that surprised me about this book is that it is based on a true story. You can read more about her story here, but the book covers it in a more personable version. This novel is not for the faint of heart. Kondazian retells Parkhurst’s life with crude language, gritty descriptions, and pure emotions. This isn’t a quick, light read (although, it does make a great summer read). This novel is intense, but the story is written so simply that nothing felt forced. There were multiple moments where I read about an event in Charley’s life and thought to myself, there’s no way that really happened, but I didn’t doubt it.

Kondazian opened my eyes to just how wild the West can be. If you’re looking to try out a good Western, The Whip is a great place to start.

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