Shawnee Falls – Entered in 2018 ATAI Book Award Contest
Shawnee Falls by David Rhodes tells the story of Fleetwood “Fleet” Rasor, a deputy marshal in Shawnee Falls, Indiana. Shortly after receiving news of an unexpected promotion, Fleet discovers that there is more to his quiet little town than he ever imagined. Fleet suddenly finds himself racing through time to preserve his new way of life.
One of the main issues with Shawnee Falls is the characterization of Fleet. He is simply too good at everything. He’s given a promotion over his coworkers, despite being the new person on the team. He knows how to win any fight. He figures out the solution to any problem in very short order, eliminating most sources of conflict within the story. This characterization makes it very difficult to form an emotional connection to the character. One way to solve this is to write Fleet as a character with problems. Give him things to struggle with and people to argue with – in addition to Scott. Make the reader wonder whether Fleet is going to triumph in the end.
The strongest aspects of Shawnee Falls are the worldbuilding and incorporation of historical events. Rhodes establishes clear rules for his version of time travel, and he sticks to them. This consistency makes it easy for the reader to suspend disbelief and engage with the plot. The inclusion of the Reno Gang as an historical set piece is also well executed. Rhodes has done the research necessary to recreate the world Seymour, Indiana in 1866. Details like these make of Shawnee Falls believable and compelling. Shawnee Falls by David Rhodes will appeal to readers who enjoy time travel and a good caper.
Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.