Deathless Divide is the much anticipated follow up to Justina Ireland’s 2018 YA novel Dread Nation. In this alternate history of Civil War era America, the dead rise up during the Battle of Gettysburg and the North and South are forced into a hasty truce. Our main characters, Jane McKeene and Katherine Devereaux are sent to combat schools to learn to be attendants which is sort of a combination of a lady’s maid and a bodyguard. The events of Deathless Divide pick up right where the previous book left off so, spoilers ahoy!
We find Katherine and Jane fleeing Summerland with a small band of escapees and an undead hoard hot on their heels. They are headed to the town of Nicodemus which is said to be safer and more tolerant than Summerland, though both women are rightfully skeptical. Naturally, nothing goes as it should and the group suffers some serious setbacks, both emotional and physical. Difficult choices are made leading to a conclusion that is satisfying but could also lead to a series, if Ms. Ireland is so inclined.
I’m very picky about alternate histories as most of them tend to be ideations of the South winning the Civil War or the Nazis winning World War II. What is clear in the Dread Nation duology is that although there are no clear winners between the Union and the Confederacy, it is black and brown folks that come out on the bottom. This is sadly the most common theme in American history, real or imagined.