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.


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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