Red Tears by N.K. Parten is one of those rare historical fiction books that is so based in actual events that you wonder at times, as a reader, whether the author’s fictionalisation of the event did indeed actually happen, exactly the way described. The time is the turn of the seventeenth century in the southern United States, where colonial interests are coming into conflict with the burgeoning, new nation of the United States. In southern Alabama, the Mimms family have fashioned a good lifestyle on their plantation, just north of Pensacola, in what was then Spanish Florida. We see the events unfold principally through the eyes of the young, teenager, Prudence Mimms, who watches, in trepidation and then horror, as the family’s relaxed lifestyle is overtaken by events. When the local, native American population of Creek Red Sticks seek revenge for an attack on their tribal lands, the Mimms family residence quickly becomes Fort Mimms, overseen by a drunken officer of the Mississippi Volunteer Militia. When the attack on Fort Mimms finally came, it was both brutal and devastating to the Mimms family, some of whom would escape south to Mobile, as the inhabitants of Fort Mimms were massacred.
Red Tears is obviously very personal to author N.K. Parten. As a distant, yet direct, descendant of the participants in this action, the author has a vested interest in the story and that shows through in the writing. This vested interest showed through the strength and frailties of the two main female characters, Prudence and her Mother. Prudence, unusually for a young woman of that time was forthright and independent and wanted more from life than to be just married off to some Southern Gentleman or Military Officer, as had her sisters. She was prepared to question the role of women in this early 1800’s and more especially the right or wrongs of slavery. Although the Mimms family were known to be “good” slaveowners, the very moral question of the rights of one human being to own another, was something Prudence was prepared to debate and question. The writing style of this story is easy, flowing and apart from giving the reader a good basic knowledge of the time period and the events of the massacre, it is an excellent action adventure, in its own right. Although the many maps and photographs sprinkled throughout the book were not brilliantly reproduced in the Kindle version, I have no doubt they would greatly aid a reader in a paperback version of the book. I love historical fiction and I loved this story. Its closeness to reality and attention to historical detail, made it special, in my mind.