I loved this book, I couldn't put it down. Started it yesterday and finished it sometme this morning, it was captivating. First off, this is book has one of my favorite narative tropes in it, which is a person from the modern world goes back in time to experience history (also where they go off to a fantasy world, but that's a different narrative type, if similar) and what Butler does with this one blew me away.
There were so many things that were so well done. For example the way the racism of early 1800's Maryland was subtly reflected in the 1970's (and today). Or the way that Kevin, during his five year exile in the early 1800's kept moving north. It's never explicetly stated but I thought it was because he kept looking for a place untouched by slavery and he just wasn't going to find it. And the way that Dana slowly looses herself in the role of a slave, even as she desperatly tries to hold on to the person she is.
I think placing the slave plantation in Maryland was brilliant it highlighted how very close slaves could be to freedom and yet so far. The Pennsylvania border is probably only a few days walk from where the plantation was, and yet running away was so dangerous very few characters attempted it.
And then there's Rufus. I loved that we got to see his whole life span, from a relatively innocent young boy to this terrible person. And we saw how the institution of slavary destroyed his character and made him one of the most frightening villians I've read in a while. And I adore that in some way that is also reflected in Kevin's sister, that the racism of today made her into a person who would disown her brother, her only living blood relative, way for marrying a black woman.
I really loved this book. It was hard to read, but so worth it. So brilliant.