Part love story, part prison break, From the Chrysalis is a fictionalized account of the deadliest event in Canadian penal history, the Kingston Penitentiary Riot of April 1971.
Reader's Favorite Award, 2012
I'd like to congratulate Karen Black on her new page-turner, From the Chrysalis. It tells the twisted and winding tale of Liza and her dashing and dangerous older cousin Dace (D'Arcy Devereux is his full, resplendent name). Set in Canada (Toronto's Christie subway station makes an appearance), it is the tale of a relationship blighted by uncomprehending relatives, social conventions, a harrowing stint in Maitland Penitentiary (complete with riots and semi-totalitarian "people's committees"), the well-intentioned galumph Mel, and a conundrum Liza has to bear calling for an ever more inevitable decision. You'll just have to read it if you want to know what I mean by that. I found the prison scenes, with their occasionally stark violence but underlying ethical probity, especially fascinating, but there's also lots of romantic tension, a kind of yearning whose fulfillment seems always out of reach, even when its physical manifestation is realized. What a potent novel! I spent the rest of the day shooting mysterious dark looks at people." -Julian Fauth, 2009 JUNO Award Winner for Blues Album of the Year
"...a meditation on obsessive love,free choice and fitful fate. From the Chrysalis asks us to consider how much of life is the result of choices we've made, and how much is determined by circumstances beyond our control." -Joseph A. (Toronto, Canada)
"...courtroom scenes are so well written, I thought I was reading a John Grisham novel but without half the tediousness of his long drawn out court battles. The sexual scenes are also beautifully done, a real part of the plot, not woven in to titillate the reader." -Book lover "Elsee" (Malvern, UK)
Drugs, bikers, prison breaks and incest provide surprising plot twists in this rough-and-tumble romance novel...set in '60s and '70s Ontario...Black has a flair for historical novels..and she shows remarkable storytelling depth... - Kirkus Reviews
***** 2012 Readers Favorite Award Winner! Dace...is about 17 when the book begins and the reader knows from the start that he is drawn to trouble. He sort of reminded me of James Dean, handsome, tempting and sure to cause suffering... Black has written a very descriptive account of the prison. She brings the scenes in her book to life and they march off the pages. -Anne B. from Readers Favorite
... [this is] definitely not a traditional romance (really straddles the line between romance and more literary fiction)... For one thing, the writing is excellent, which just isn’t always the case in self-pubbed books (oh who are we kidding, in all books, my own included, at times, LOL). It’s not just compelling, but beautiful writing. You can tell the author takes her craft seriously. -Joanna Wilde's World
In the captivating sequel to From the Chrysalis, cousins Dace and Liza Devereux each face new battles in life--while continuing to cope with the lifelong, passionate yearnings forbidden by societal norms.
Feeling for the Air (The Devereux Cousins Book 2), by author Karen E. Black, continues where From the Chrysalis: A Novel left off. Darcy “Dace” Devereux was on the run; he’d escaped from a maximum security prison where the most cold-blooded of offenders were housed. Now he was one of the most wanted men in Canada. He’d managed to get word to Liza Devereux, his cousin and lover; they met in the bomb shelter on the Melville property before he went on the run again. It was extremely cold but he finally made it to Cornwall, despite the cold and dark. He and Dirt Beard of the Wolfhounds had just met when he heard a shot. Meanwhile Larry Savage was hot on Dace’s trail. Liza had a secret; she was expecting Dace’s baby.
Feeling for the Air (The Devereux Cousins Book 2) by author Karen E. Black is a brilliantly written coming-of-age novel. We all make decisions and must live with the consequences. That is where we find Dace and Liza — dealing with the consequences of their decisions. When I reviewed Chrysalis, I compared Dace to James Dean and the roles he played. I still see Dace in that manner. When he assisted the children out of the wrecked car, he showed strong compassion for them. Obviously he is in trouble and troubled, but he’s not all bad. Karen E. Black highly developed all of her characters, even the secondary ones. Author Karen Black is not afraid to tackle a social issue and addresses several. I suggest reading this series in order although Feeling for the Air can stand well alone. This is a series you will want to savour. --Anne Boling from Reader's Favorite
From the Chrysalis and Feeling for the Air are in paperback and/or e-book format at:
Books about Kingston Penitentiary that inspired From the Chrysalis:
- Alias Grace [a novel] by Margaret Atwood
- Bingo! Four Days in Hell [a somewhat true account of the Kingston Penitentiary Riot, April 1971] by Roger Caron
- Birdsong [a fictionalized memoir of the Kingston Penitentiary Riot, April 1971] by Gregory Bell
- Canada's Big House: The Dark History of the Kingston Penitentiary
- The Convict Lover: A True Story
- The Desperate Ones: Forgotten Canadian Outlaws
- "Until You Are Dead": Steven Truscott's Long Ride into History
Four Wings and a Prayer: Caught in the Mystery of the Monarch Butterfly by Sue Halpern
Insect Lore Live Butterfly Garden
- Caught by Lisa Moore
- Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
- Labor Day by Joyce Maynard
- Papillon by Henri Charierre
- This is Not My Life: A Memoir of Love, Prison and Other Complications by Diane Schoemperlen Coincidentally, Diane edited my second book Feeling for the Air (a fictional account about a college aged woman's relationship with a convict) while she waited for her own revealing memoir about a middle aged woman's long term relationship with a convict to be published by HarperCollins. Diane's memoir (which has been very well received and has evidently brought her a lot of personal satisfaction) provides a more up-to-date picture of the Kingston, Ontario prison community than my stories. For one thing, at the time of the Kingston Penitentiary Riot in 1971 on which my novel From the Chrysalis is based, there were no conjugal visits.