Home is where the heart is, but freedom without family requires a rescue plan.

Step into the gripping tale of a legend before she became the “Moses” of her people. Meet Araminta "Minty" Wren, a fiery soul born into the chains of slavery, but with a heart that burns for freedom.

Seizing Freedom Black Historical Fantasy ND Jones Harriet's Escape

Freedom Called, And She Answered

Includes Book Club questions, such as the following:

  • Discuss the portrayal of Harriet as a flightless Sankofa bird shifter. How did this fantastical element add depth to her character, and in what ways did it resonate with her real-life persona as a courageous freedom fighter?
  • In what ways did the depiction of slave owners as mighty dragon shifters contribute to the fantastical atmosphere of the book? How did this choice influence your perception of the power dynamics within the story?
  • How does the novel's portrayal of enslavement and resistance parallel real historical accounts of slavery, particularly in the context of Harriet Tubman's life and legacy? Discuss the effectiveness of using a fantastical setting to explore historical themes.
  • Publication Date: May 25, 2024
  • Genre: Historical Fantasy
  • Cover Design: Atlantis Book Designs
  • ASIN: B0CSB16Q9W
  • ISBN: 979-8-9871464-8-4

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Before she becomes Harriet, the legendary "conductor" on the Underground Railroad and the "Moses of her people," she is little Araminta "Minty" Wren, a flightless Sankofa bird shifter.

She is born under the brutal lash of enslavement, her first breaths of life owned by her mother's Dragonkin master. Growing up, Minty feels like a neglected weed, ignorant of liberty, neither happy nor content. Slavery is the next thing to Hell.

Yet, hope flickers like a tiny flame within Minty's heart. She knows freedom will be hers one day. However, seizing freedom for herself is not as sweet without her loved ones to share it with.

Armed with her wits and courage, Minty embarks on daring missions to rescue her beloved Birdfolk family from the claws of slavery. The odds are stacked against her as the shadows of slave catchers lurk in every corner.

Will she manage to save her family and lead them to freedom, or will her attempts at liberation be cut short?

In this alternative fantasy history, an African American historical figure is reimagined, and resistance against oppression is a deadly endeavor. Minty's transformation into Harriet, a legendary hero, is not just a change of name but a fierce battle for freedom, echoing the timeless resilience of those who seek liberation. "Harriet's Escape" is the first book in the "Seizing Freedom" Black historical fantasy fiction trilogy.

Content Warnings: child physical assault, talk of/threatening child physical assault, talk of suicide, implied rape, on-page character death, off-page character death

Excerpt

“Come on, let’s play.”

Seated on the steps of her cabin home, bare feet cold against the rough wood, Minty glanced from Mariah’s outstretched hand to the closed door behind her.

“Momma is gonna be awhile.”

“How long?”

Huffing as if she’d done something wrong by asking a simple question, Mariah marched to stand in front of Minty. “You took forever to get here. But we all waited. Me, Soph, and Robert played while Aveline, Poppa, and Linah helped Momma push you out.”

Minty did not understand most of Mariah’s words. Still, she grasped the more significant point because Rit had told her, “I’m growin’ a baby inside of me. You will be a big sister, Minty. Will you like that?”

She’d nodded, feeling both happiness and sadness at the prospect of no longer being the baby of the family.

Pulling the oversized shirt over scraped knees still healing from the last time Minty tried to keep up with her older sister, Mariah, she poked her tongue at her.

Instead of getting mad, Mariah laughed and poked her tongue at Minty in return. “Momma would scold us if she saw. But she’s in there, and we’re out here.” Mariah reached for Minty again, and this time, she permitted her sister to pull her to her feet. “I know it’s kind of chilly, but we can warm up if we run around.”

Minty was cold, and she liked it when her sisters were at home to play with her, which, since her father went away, occurred less frequently because they, too, were often sent to work elsewhere. So, Minty decided she wouldn’t waste this alone time with Mariah.

She held on to her hand, smiling when Mariah grabbed hers tightly and skipped away from the cabin. As always, Mariah chatted, telling Minty things she was too young to fully understand.

“On my way home from the Ailron Plantation, I stopped to see Soph and Robert. But their temporary owner, Mistress Bargu, wouldn’t let me see them. She said they were workin’, and I needed to be on my way. I tried to tell her that Momma would have her baby soon and that it would be nice if Soph and Robert could be there. But she threatened to . . .” Mariah halted and grinned down at Minty with one of her many adult-looking expressions despite her being only twelve. “It don’t matter. I just wanted to see my brother and sister. It’s been weeks. And that mean dragon won’t give me even a minute. Just a minute. That’s not much. Is it?”

“Not much,” Minty said, unsure how long a minute was but thinking it probably couldn’t be long if Mariah was so upset. “Mean dragon,” she repeated, trying to sound older than her not quite two years.

The effort may not have had the effect she desired. But Mariah’s laughter brightened her wilted features, which was an infinitely better response.

Bending to Minty’s level, Mariah kissed her cheek before pulling her in for a tight hug. “I hate it at the Ailron Plantation. But I can’t tell Momma or Poppa because it’ll make them worry more than they already do. Mistress Essodel is rich. I don’t know why Minister Breembat hires us out. There’s plenty to do around here and in the mine.”

Again, Minty was too young to respond with anything other than an innocent child’s “It’s okay,” followed by a kiss on Mariah’s cheek.

“When we aren’t around, you’ll have to help Momma with the new baby.”

“Play.”

“You’ll have to feed the baby, too, sometimes. And clean the baby’s poop and pee.”

“Poop and pee,” Minty repeated, knowing she sometimes soiled herself. When that happened, Rit would remind her, “Big girls don’t go to the bathroom on themselves.”

“Promise me you’ll be a good big sister.”

That wasn’t a hard promise for Minty to make because Linah, Mariah, and Soph had always been good to her. Some days, she would confuse Linah with Rit because her eldest sister was the next best thing to a mother that a girl could have.

“Promise.” Because she wouldn’t be the baby of the family after today, and her second-oldest sister had spoken a more profound truth into existence, a sense of responsibility and kinship that would drive her future adult self for eight long years, Minty maneuvered out of her sister’s arms and around to her back, where Mariah still knelt. “Back ride?”

“I can do that. Hop on.”

She did, and Mariah took off, whooping and hollering as she ran around the aviary. Darting between cabins, jumping over real rocks but imaginary lakes, Mariah ran and ran, a prelude to a future neither sister could imagine for themselves on the day of another Wren child’s birth.

“The baby’s finally here.”

Recognizing Linah’s voice, Minty jumped from Mariah’s back and darted toward home. As her sister had, Minty ran and ran—slow, winded, but determined to reach her destination. But she stumbled and fell.

Tears threatened.

But before a single tear escaped, Linah and Mariah were there. Scooping her up, Linah checked her for injuries and, seeing none, wiped dirt from her legs, hands, and face. “Our clumsy Minty. Try not to fall on Momma. Now get inside and introduce yourself to our little brother.”

Beside her, Mariah whooped. “Momma said she was havin’ a boy. Named after Poppa?”

“Benjamin Wren Junior. You’re as dirty as Minty. Both of you get in here.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Minty and Mariah said, then poked their tongues at each other. But Linah returned their silliness with a playful wink, a reminder that she was only sixteen despite her grown-up ways and fiancée status.

Knowing better than to run to her mother, Minty bolted for her father, who she knew would . . . Ben lifted her into his arms and showered her with kisses when Mariah had gifted her with only one.

“How’s my sweet girl?”

“Good.”

“You see the baby down there?”

“Hear him. He’s loud.”

“That’s a good sign. Strong lungs. Strong body. Momma is tired, so we gotta let her feed little Ben and then nap.”

Minty understood that meant for her not to disturb either of them, which was fine because she’d never heard a baby cry so much as her new brother. It wasn’t a pleasant sound for Minty, she realized, but one she would have no choice but to get used to.

But those were future responsibilities and hardships. On this day, her family was mostly together; Minty was in her father’s arms and held against a solid and true chest, like the male himself.

Linah and Mariah apparently felt the same because they turned Minty’s moment with Ben into a father-daughter group hug with Minty squeezed between them.

The little girl giggled, unaware how, in two short years, Ben’s move to Pelduth Neck would turn out to be the first of many separations forced on their loving but enslaved family.