The Watchman's Son
by R. J. Stachofsky
Trafford Publishing

"A friend once told me, ‘The ghosts of the past will dissolve like fog.’ But you know Judith, there are just some days the fog doesn’t dissolve, it only lifts just high enough to linger amongst the tree tops."

One thing novels are particularly good at is whisking readers away to another place and time. That’s certainly the case with this one. The place is the sprawling countryside of Oregon; the time is 1897. What unfolds within the pages of this book is an engrossing tale of lives intertwined—perhaps by fate and coincidence, or perhaps by a guiding hand.

Jacob is a drifter, a man who wanders from town to town seeking work as a carpenter when it’s available, taking other jobs when it isn’t. He meets Sam, the owner and watchman of a river ferry plus a spread of land. Jacob’s in need of a hot meal he’s willing to work for, and Sam’s ready to oblige. Over the course of the next days and weeks, Jacob will become forever connected to Sam, his wife, Judith, and the watchman’s son, Nate. Theirs will be a bond formed not only from respect and kindness but also from anguish and regret.

Author Stachofsky tells the majority of his tale in the present tense and first-person stream of consciousness voice of Jacob. This technique delivers a feeling of immediacy that wraps the reader within the confines of the story. Stachofsky is a skilled writer adept at capturing the awesome beauty of the environment, the shared dependence between people and animals, and the conflicting nature of human emotions. His story conjures echoes of Davis Grubb’s The Barefoot Man, and Cormac McCarthy’s Suttree. Like the literary giants behind those tales, Stachofsky recognizes the power and allure of something as singular as human dignity. Fortunately, he’s also adept at examining it within the confines of a compelling story extremely well told.

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