Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen is a historical novel imagining the life of Cathy Williams, the African-American who served as a buffalo soldier after the Civil War. Taking the known facts of Williams’ life, Sarah Bird imagines how she came to have such extraordinary courage and grit.

The story begins with the plantation where Cathy works as a slave, along with her mother and sister. She thinks herself apart from the rest of the slaves because her mother has taught her she is a captive, not a slave. They speak their ancestral language Fon and remember the stories of Africa, old by her grandmother who had been a Queen before she was capture. Cathy is the daughter of the daughter of a queen and will not be broken.

When the plantation is burned, the Union Army “liberates” them by putting them to work supporting the Army. Cathy is separated from her family and assigned to help General Sheridan’s cook. The first part of the book is her service until the end of the Civil War, then her service as a buffalo soldier, and finally, a short section on her post-military life.

This is a fast-paced engrossing story of adventure and bravery that I read pretty much straight through. Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen sees Cathy not only as brave and bold, but as witty and clever, so there is plenty of sly humor and hilarity. Humor, though, is not the focus. There’s the jeopardy of being black in a racist country and the double jeopardy of being a woman. There’s the fear of being discovered and the “otherness” attached to her while in the Army, fear of the enemies and her fellow soldiers. But then, there is also friendship and romance. It’s a rich book full of excitement and adventure.

Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen will be released September 4th. I received an e-galley from the publisher through NetGalley