I went into reading this book a little apprehensive. I do not usually like anything supernatural, but I soon realized that To Live Forever by Andra Watkins was not focused on that, but on a really interesting story intertwining the 1800’s and the 1970’s.
Meriwether Lewis has been stuck in Nowhere since his death, a mystery whether a suicide or murder, about 170 years ago. Enter Emmaline Cagney: A 9-year-old girl from New Orleans who has just been caught up in a nasty divorce between her parents, and her mother happens to be a madam (mother promoting prostitution) who tries to sell Emmaline out. Em is Merry Lewis’ last hope for redemption, and so he must get her to her father in Nashville.
There is one problem: To do this, Lewis must cross his own grave along the Natchez Trace, where he must confront old foes and old sins if he is to save Em and to save himself.
To Live Forever was a very interesting read for me. I was not expecting it to go the way it did, which is the reason why I liked it. So many authors would have been restricted by genres, but Andra Watkins wrote what flowed, and it was truly a great read.
Meriwether Lewis died mysteriously, and so he being condemned to Nowhere in the book is a viable story element. I also found the way Ms. Watkins tied her interest, and where Lewis died, in the Natchez Trace tied in well. The trek Merry and Em had to take, with the corrupt Judge Wilkinson chasing them as he had Lewis for centuries before, worked quite well, and was the central plot of To Live Forever.
One note on the villain, Judge Wilkinson: He is one of those you will love to hate. Convinced that Emmaline is the reincarnation of his beloved wife, we find out that he may have personal connections to Lewis too. He had depth, a true evil, that made him a great literary antagonist.
All in all, To Live Forever by Andra Watkins is an innovative novel encompassing the life, legacy, and destiny of one of America’s greatest explorers, Meriwether Lewis. It is a story of redemption, and how sometimes mistakes can be made right. It is also a story of history, written utilizing Lewis’ actual life, making, like it often is, past prologue. To Live Forever bends genres to deliver a novel worth reading.
Note: Andra Watkins just became the first person, male or female, to walk all 444 miles of the Natchez Trace since the 1820’s! Running from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee, this is the trail Lewis actually died on, and the trail this book is centered around. Congratulations to Ms. Watkins on her accomplishment!
Andra Watkins is a native of Tennessee, but now calls Charleston, South Carolina home. She is the author of To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey Of Meriwether Lewis which debuted March 1st, 2014. It is a mishmash of historical fiction, paranormal fiction, and suspense that follows Meriwether Lewis after his mysterious death on the Natchez Trace in 1809. She is married to Michael T. Maher.