There’s nothing pulpy about David Wright Faladé’s Black Cloud Rising. It’s a Civil War novel based on the actual experiences of the African Brigade ... Faladé’s book is so accessible and rousing, though, that you hope it becomes available as a mass-market paperback, in packaging that more clearly announces: This book is a straight-up page-turner ... There are no braided points of view here, no too-pretty words, no splintered syntax. No leaden diagnoses of the human predicament belch on the smoky skyline. The nature of the American experiment is implicitly questioned but not burned to the ground ... This is a classic war story told simply and well, its meanings not forced but allowed to bubble up on their own ... This is in some senses Faladé’s first novel ...There’s blood and sinew in the story he tells ... It seems built out of pine, not mahogany, as if heeding the poet A.R. Ammons’s advice: 'Sometimes the best piece of / wood is not right for what you have in mind.'
... immersive ... This deeply researched work of historical fiction devotes much more time to the campaign's wearying tasks of marching and provisioning than the brief but ferocious outbreaks of fighting. Just as central to the novel are the battles taking place in Etheridge's heart, as he must learn to stop searching for belonging among people incapable of seeing him as fully human.
... stirring ... Faladé’s fast-paced narrative is filled with dramatic confrontations. But its military skirmishes are made even more tense and powerful by the personal clashes that set some soldiers against one another and illuminate the dangerous uncertainties that shadow both the hurriedly assembled Black forces of the Union Army and the local communities being wrested from the Confederacy.
Riveting ... David Wright Faladé skillfully weaves real people and events into a compelling fictional narrative of life in the African Brigade ... Wright Faladé has done his research. His sense of place...is picture perfect, and the characters come alive on every page ... David Wright Faladé has brought a fictionalized version of Richard Etheridge’s story to a larger audience. It’s a tale worth telling — and one very well told.
Superior ... Etheridge is made a fascinating figure, well suited to serve as the focal point for Faladé’s exploration of the complexities of Etheridge and his comrades’s rapid shift from powerlessness to armed military duty. Engrossing and complex, this will have readers riveted.