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For Immediate Release:

The Deseret Reckoning Checks All the Boxes for Adventure in the West

     The second release from Matthew L. Huffman, The Deseret Reckoning, is a slow-burn, character-driven novel set for release this November. You’ll find yourself rooting for the main character, Susan Kingsley, as she traverses the American West and transforms herself into a bold and, at times, fierce heroine. 
     Spoiler alert: Colorado and Utah are the centerpieces in the background of the story. If you’re looking for a compelling and uplifting tale of tragedy and redemption this holiday season, consider The Deseret Reckoning. This page-turner is a meld of historical fiction and the modern Western sure to satisfy fans of Craig Johnson, Peter Heller, Kent Meyers, or Tony Hillerman.
     Huffman, from Arvada, Colorado, splits his time between running a successful small business and fly fishing for trout throughout the West. When asked about the inspiration for the story, Huffman said, “It’s a story about coming to terms with the losses in our past and finding redemption in the friends we call family.”
     Investment in Huffman’s memorable characters comes easy and the depth of their emotions reveals complexities and a longing for a different time. A sense of belonging, friendship and ambition, fear and morality, seen through the lens of a time gone by add to the edgy tale of mystery. The Deseret Reckoning checks all the boxes for intrigue, adventure, and ardent conflicts of the American West and will win over the hearts and minds of the unsure. Pick up a copy today. (This writer gifted a copy to a loved one.) 

     Blending history, adventure, and a hunt for secrets involving a lost mine, Huffman’s time-crossed novel centers on Susan Kingsley, an ambitious assistant acquisitions specialist at the Smithsonian. In 1982, Susan lucks into a series of letters from 1870 detailing a wagon train’s journey down the Old Spanish Trail to the “Deseret Territory,” a stretch of the American southwest that the Mormons once sought to claim as a country of their own. As Susan begins to grasp the promise and significance of this find, and to hope it might lead to her long-deserved promotion, Huffman also dramatizes the experiences of the original letter writer himself, William Mitchell, a natural leader arranging a wagon train headed for “the fertile valleys of Vernal” to “carve out a homestead.”

     Like readers will be, Susan is intrigued, eventually embarking on a journey to unravel the tantalizing mysteries in William’s letters, all while her ex-husband, Andrew Harrison, spirals into bitterness, closely monitoring her every move and making nasty cracks about “career women.” Huffman skillfully weaves narratives spanning across a century, between the post-Civil War West, prior to Utah statehood, and the chauvinistic 1980s, of Reagan’s war on drugs and rumors about J. Edgar Hoover’s sexual orientation. Huffman demonstrates throughout how each era’s ethos shape the choices of the characters, while their travels come with vibrant descriptions, enriching the dual quests. The temporal transitions are smooth and clear, and the different perspectives and vocabularies keep the novel feeling varied.

     Huffman crafts a thoughtful but well-paced adventure, with Andrew’s inner turmoil and deceptions raising the stakes, right till the end. This novel is as much a journey of self discovery and newfound determination as it is a quest for retracing a historical trail. The welcome character of Kat, turning up deep into the story, represents female solidarity, guiding Susan’s growth, making it a tale of empowerment that will resonate with anyone interested in an exciting quest and convincing explorations of bygone socio-cultural moments.

Takeaway: Thoughtful, well-paced story of a Smithsonian acquisitionist on the Old Spanish Trail.

Comparable Titles: Serena Burdick’s The Stolen Book of Evelyn Aubrey, Lisa Wingate’s The Book of Lost Friends.


1-On-1 With Matthew Huffman

National News

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Matthew Huffman Receives Literary Award

Writer’s Journal

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