The Candle Star – Divided Decade Trilogy

Candle Star9781497450257_p0_v4_s260x420The Candle Star

Michelle Isenhoff, Author

Historical Fiction, 2011

Suitable for:  Middle Grade

Book 1 of the Divided Decade Trilogy

Emily Preston is a spirited 12-year-old southern belle living on a plantation in Charleston, S.C.   She is outspoken, sarcastic, mean and self-absorbed.  Her parents are disturbed by her behavior and send her to Detroit to live with her uncle, Isaac Milford, who runs a hotel.  Emily is horrified when she realizes that the employees are free slaves and she’s to join them in the daily work of running the hotel.  She misbehaves, skips school and treats the employees with disdain, hoping that her uncle will send her back home.   Her uncle sees his own reflection in Emily, and treats her with firmness and patience.

Detroit and the simplicity of her life begin to grow on Emily.  She would never admit it.  She befriends Malachi, the son of Julia, the hotel cook.  She  is shocked to learn he attends school, reads and writes and wants to be a doctor.  As she settles into her new life, Emily is challenged to come to terms with her southern upbringing.  While she develops relationships with the workers at the hotel, she begins to question everything she has known.  It is a confusing time for Emily.  Her bond with Uncle Isaac strengthens as he begins to teach and trust her.  Emily stumbles upon her uncle’s secret and finds herself involved in events that will change her world forever.   Emily transforms into a remarkable girl who listens with her heart.

Why I liked this book:  The Candle Star is a brilliant work of historical fiction.   Michelle Isenhoff offers a fresh new perspective on the differences between the north and south by focusing on those who risked their lives to help slaves find freedom, before the Civil War.  The setting is Michigan, Michelle’s home state, and many of the characters are based on real people.  Although Michigan wasn’t part of the battleground, it played a significant role in the Underground Railroad, with seven routes passing through Detroit.  Kudos to the author for all the detailed research that went into this book  and for teaching me something new.  Her writing style is vivid, her plot strong and her characters are rich and memorable.

The Divided Decade Trilogy:  The Candle Star is the first book in the Divided Decade Trilogy.  All three books are stand-alone novels that shed light on the role Michigan families played to support the war effort and freedom for slaves.  The second book Blood of Pioneers, is about Hannah, who tries to save the family farm when her father and brother go to war.   The third book, Beneath the Slashings, was released August 2012.   Grace wants her family to return to a normal life after the war,  but finds her life uprooted when her father seeks work in a lumber camp in northern Michigan.   Click here to visit Michelle Isenhoff’s website.   Make sure you check out the teacher’s resources for each book.  There also is an interesting “Author’s Note” at the end of each book detailing the historical information of that time in Michigan.

Blood Pioneers9781499230536_p0_v2_s260x420Beneath the Slashings9781499234619_p0_v3_s260x420The Quill Pen untitled

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

21 thoughts on “The Candle Star – Divided Decade Trilogy

  1. Patricia,

    This looks like an amazing trilogy that I’ll put on my order list for the shop. I can imagine how mind-bending it would be to go from a slave state to one where people were free and have your whole notion of right and wrong turned upside down. These books would combine nicely with a couple of albums (CDs actually) that we have from Kim and Reggie Harris with songs from the Underground Railroad called “Steal Away” and “Get On Board.”

    Thanks for the review! I’ll look forward to reading the books.


    • Craig, I’m glad you enjoyed the review. I couldn’t put the books down, once I started the trilogy. Michelle has focused on a period of time and showed it from a different POV. I just finished, Beneath the Slashings, and was equally satisfied. Think you’d like her website too. She reviews some very good MG novels. And, her Quill Pen is an excellent read.


  2. I am a big fan of historical fiction, and this is history about which my knowledge is sketchy. Having read this review, I have definitely put it on my TBR list! Thank you for the recommendation, Pat!


    • Glad you enjoyed the review Joanna. I have really enjoyed learning something new about that period in history — especially Michigan. Ohio was the border where slaves crossed the Ohio River. So, I would naturally gravitate to this subject. But, Michelle combines history, with adventure and danger. Excellent read.


    • Ruth, all three books are outstanding stand alones, that together paint a wonderful picture of that period of history. I finished the last book and it was very good. I loved them all for different reasons.


  3. Patricia, thank you so much for this beautiful review. It is probably the most well-written summary I’ve seen. I really appreciate the attention you’ve given the series. It does help an author spread the word. 🙂

    Sorry I didn’t get on here yesterday. I’m up north for the week and my internet has been pretty sketchy.


    • Michelle,
      Glad you liked the review of your book. I think it is an important series for middle graders. Wish you much success with this trilogy and your latest book release, Beneath the Slashings. Can’t say I have a favorite because each book is an excellent read. – Pat


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  5. This sounds like a really good read, Pat, thanks for sharing! I love historically based novels, and I just read a review of Michelle’s newest book which sounds great, too, although I can’t for the life of me remember where…. maybe Erik’s blog? Anyway, they all look good!


  6. Wonderful review Pat! Love Michelle’s stories. They transport me.

    I am trying to get caught up with blogging. My blog was hacked in early August. Right after I posted my review on Beneath the Slashings. I have had a time with it. *sigh* Why can’t hackers use their brains for the common good instead of making people miserable?


    • Robyn, I feel the same way about Michelle’s stories. They are transporting. And, this one about the lumber camps had just the right balance of adventure and history. I’ve learned a great deal of new information from her Divided Decade series. Wonder what she’ll write next. So sorry to hear you got hacked. That’s scary on a blog.


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