Washington’s Shadow was featured in a review in Chesapeake Style Magazine, April 2020 edition, written by Ann Skelton:
Barbara McLennan’s latest historical fiction, Washington’s Shadow, is set thirty years after the long winter at Valley Forge in 1778. In this story three generations of Powell children, gather to mourn the death of Leven Powel, the family patriarch and a devoted supporter of George Washington. Leven’s adult children learn details of Leven’s revolutionary war activities through documents found in a locked chest. Their sister Jane, trained as a teacher, agrees to write a biography of Leven culled from the documents. The family also learns that Washington rewarded his soldiers in the form of warrants to land in the sparsely settled state of Ohio.
The value of those deeds has given rise to a scam by an unscrupulous corporation, one that does not blanch at the use of violence to swindle warrants from unsuspecting veterans. Leven Powell had passed his warrants to his eldest son Billy who is unaware of their value and of the danger he faces from the land-grab company. Alas, brother Billy is in imminent danger.
Part II: Indian Country and Winchester. The story gains momentum in this section as the family determines to find Billy and warn him of danger. The cast of characters widens, and action accelerates as the Lenape Indian, George Morgan White Eyes, Billy’s siblings, and four of the teen-age grandchildren mobilize to find and protect Billy. Gun-toting teens along with a mule, a dog and the necessary ammunition set out on a short cut through dense Virginia woods to warn their uncle Billy of the danger he faces. The fast-paced section replete with mishaps, challenges, as well as mild quarrels among the teen aged adventurers also features an unlikely hero in the form of a huge black bear, a bear that can discern the good-guys from evildoers. Readers will not be disappointed with the drama in the woods which includes an armed battle with local militia.
Part III, Middleburg and Alexandria
This final section brings the characters back together in an effective wrap-up to the action. The main characters discuss not only the adventure that ended in success for Billy and the Powell family but the principles espoused by Washington that also motivated this revolutionary family. The characters’ lives are neatly tied up as they reconnect after all the smoke and excitement of the conflict has settled.
Though McLennan imagines gun-toting teenagers and heroic wildlife, she does not take liberties with history. We hear about the Lenape Indians; we learn that even after the Revolution is over and the English departed, not all Americans supported a strong central government. We see political turmoil surrounding Jefferson’s battle to win an electoral college victory; as well as President Jefferson’s political maneuvers against Aaron Burr and Burr’s subsequent trial and acquittal.
Through it all George Washington’s long shadow is cast on later generations even to our own. His belief in truth, justice and equality for all still casts a long shadow into this generation.