Fighting Devil’s Backbone, Book 1: The Shadow of E. Z.’s Fear


Book: Fighting Devil’s Backbone, Book 1: The Shadow of E. Z.’s Fear

Author: Tony L. Turnbow 

Illustrator: Hanson Suhendra

Publisher: Tony L. Turnbow, 2021

ISBN-13: 978-1736260807

ISBN-10: 1736260804

Related website(s): (author)

Language level: 1

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Recommended reading level: Ages 13 – 18

Rating: ***** 5 stars

(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)

Category: Historical fiction

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

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     Turnbow, Tony L. Fighting Devil’s Backbone, Book 1: The Shadow of E. Z.’s Fear (Published in 2021 by Tony L. Turnbow, Franklin, TN).  It is 1809, and teenager Ezekiel, known as E.Z. (pronounced “easy”) Perkins, his widowed mother Sarah, and younger brother David leave their home in Pennsylvania, following Mr. Perkins’s death, to build a new life in the Mississippi Territory.  However, before they embark in Nashville, TN, an old boatman warns them about “The Devil’s Backbone,” the local name for the Natchez Trace which runs from Nashville, through Indian Territory, to Mississippi.  The trail is rumored to be filled with cutthroat bandits, angry Indian warriors, and monstrous creatures.  From the moment they start their journey, bandits target E. Z. because he discovers one of their secrets.  

    Will the bandits get what they want?  Do the Perkinses and their traveling companions encounter any Indian warriors?  And what happens when they leave the Trace?  Author Tony L. Turnbow also wrote the non-fiction book Hardened to Hickory: The Missing Chapter in Andrew Jackson’s Life, and has studied the history of the Old Natchez Trace for more than thirty years.  The Shadow of E. Z.’s Fear is Book 1 of the “Fighting Devil’s Backbone” series.  Tony told me, “I am writing a young adult historical fiction series with the goal of encouraging young people to take a greater interest in learning history.” 

    A historical coming of age tale, this adventure story teaches young people about the daily struggles for survival that those early Americans endured and helps them to appreciate the way things were in 1809.  Throughout the trip, the Perkins family’s survival depends upon young E. Z.’s learning which of his fears are real and which are imaginary.  Be forewarned.  In some series, each book ends with a satisfactory conclusion and merely sets the stage for the next volume.   In other series, the reader is left hanging by a thread over a cliff.  “Fighting Devil’s Backbone” is the latter. Book 2 is E. Z. and the Chikasha Warrior.

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