06 April 2020

The Blue Cloak | Book Review, Guest Post + Giveaway


Evil incarnate leaves a trail of destruction across the frontier.

Book 5 in the True Colors series—fiction based on strange-but-true history.

Rachel Taylor lives a rather mundane existence in 1797 at the way station her family runs along the Wilderness Road in Tennessee. She attends her friend Sally Rice’s wedding only to watch the marriage dissolve into horror has the groom, Wiley Harpe, and his cousin Micajah become murderers on the run, who drag their families along. Declaring a “war on all humanity,” the Harpes won’t be stopped, and Ben Langford is on their trail to see if his own cousin was one of their latest victims.

How many will die before peace can return to the frontier?

Publisher: Barbour
Release Date: March 1, 2020



Experience the wilderness and brutality of the eighteenth-century frontier in Shannon McNear’s The Blue Cloak.

Throughout the area, the Harpes satisfy their murderous inclinations and create havoc, uncertainty, and terror. Rachel Taylor’s friend, Sally Rice, recently became wife to Wiley Harpe, while Ben Langford’s cousin fell victim to the killing spree. With clear reasons to want justice, they grapple with the evil lurking around them, do what they can to put an end to it, and even find hope amidst the tragedy.

The Blue Cloak brings to life an astounding piece of history I had never heard before, and seeing it play out kept me intrigued. The Harpes exemplify the challenge of keeping evil in check, and yet, through it all, God works and brings about good. It is a solid historical-fiction story—even if the writing felt a little distant from it, at times—and look forward to exploring more True Colors crimes.


I received a complimentary copy of this book and the opportunity to provide an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, and all the opinions I have expressed are my own.


Transplanted to North Dakota after more than two decades in Charleston, South Carolina, Shannon McNear loves losing herself in local history. She’s a military wife, mom of eight, mother-in-law of three, grammie of two, and a member of ACFW and RWA. Her first novella, Defending Truth in A Pioneer Christmas Collection, was a 2014 RITA® finalist. When she’s not sewing, researching, or leaking story from her fingertips, she enjoys being outdoors, basking in the beauty of the northern prairies. 


How dark is too dark for a Christian to write?

That was the question I wrestled with when deciding whether or not to take on the story of the Harpes. The histories in Scripture itself aren’t rated G, but writing fiction requires a level of detail and depth of emotion I wasn’t sure would be wise, or helpful, to explore in this case. But as I prayed and sought the counsel of those whose discernment I trust, the answer came back, overwhelmingly …

Is God stronger than the darkness, or not?

Well, of course He is. And nothing in human history has ever escaped His notice, or taken Him by surprise.

So, was there something redeeming to be found in the tale of the Harpes?

For the first few weeks of research, I walked around in a state of shock at the horror of the historical accounts, but details surfaced that helped me shape my fictional characters Rachel and Ben. With Rachel working in her family’s trading post near the wild frontier town of Knoxville, Tennessee, and Ben a lawyer who recently passed the bar, the real-life Hugh Lawson White provided a handy connection point between them. Many other details fell together in ways I had not foreseen when I began developing the story. Sally Rice Harpe, however, rose to the forefront. This was more her story than anyone’s, but realizing I couldn’t properly write the book without using her point of view? That was scary. I knew the moments I’d have to visit, some of them in real-time.

Despite the tragedy, however, I could see an overarching story of spiritual warfare. Felt a growing conviction that prayer must have played a vital role in bringing the Harpes’ reign of terror to an end. So it is my hope that against the backdrop of one of the most chilling episodes of our country’s early history, the hand of God shows clearly, and that yes, the reader finds it redemptive.


To celebrate her tour, Shannon is giving away the grand prize package of a copy of The Blue Cloak and a $25 Amazon gift card. Enter below, and be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway.



  1. Sounds like a great book.

  2. Thank you so much for taking the time not only to read, but also review and feature my story as part of the tour! ❤

  3. Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres. "The Blue Cloak" sounds like a great book.

  4. This sounds awful and exciting at the same time!

  5. Thank you for sharing your honest thoughts. I'm enjoying the True Colors series.

  6. Sounds like a book I would love to read. Adding to my TBR list.