THE BRICKWORKS: THE FORTNIGHTLY FEATURE REVIEW
THE BRICKWORKS BY LUCY E.M. BLACK
October 23, 2023 by Carrie Stanton
The Brickworks by Lucy E. M. Black will sweep its readers back in time to the early 1900s when the spark of imagination and technology was on the cusp of igniting. After the disaster of the Tay Bridge collapse in Dundee, Scotland in 1879, young Brodie Smith fears he’ll never get over feeling somehow responsible. After all, his father was driving the train that snowy night when he and his passengers lost their lives when the bridge gave way and the train plowed over the edge, into the river. Haunting Brodie is the nagging question of whether his father could have done something more.
“Lucy E.M. Black has imagined a tale drawn around an actual historical event in The Brickworks.”
Seeking change and adventure, he leaves Scotland for Buffalo, NY after his education in engineering is complete. Brodie marvels at the sight of the steel bridges and is determined to build bridges that last. At the steel mill that employs him, he meets Alistair Lamont, another Scot and fellow employee. They become friends with a common dream. Together they must find a way to industrialize the area by filling the growing need for, not bridges, but bricks in the expansive country just to the north, Canada. The young Scots attempt to make their mark on the world by setting their entrepreneurial sights on creating a brickworks company. Their dream for creating and their vision for fulfilling that dream is a testament to all those who see the future. This desire is captured fully within the characters of The Brickworks.
Lucy E.M. Black has imagined a tale drawn around an actual historical event in The Brickworks. It is a story so distinctly detailed, researched, and brought to life, that I could not wait to return to reading it just to live within its pages. Black brought forward a full range of characters with all the fixings. With the friendship of Brodie and Alistair at its crux, readers are front and centre to the unfolding of turn-of-the-century entrepreneurship, finance, hardship, and sacrifice. Little is ever gained without great stamina coupled with great loss. The Brickworks is stuffed full, and brimming, with guts, strain, and love. Love of the dream, the community, and each other are themes witnessed throughout The Brickworks.
The determination and challenges that Lucy E.M. Black sets up for these two young men are astounding, yet oh-so seamless. I was completely swallowed into this story and found myself slowing my reading pace as I got further into the book and closer to the book’s end. I could not bear to leave the pages, to leave Brodie and Alistair, their lives embroiled with their combined sense of drive for success, yet filled with compassion and duty for their community. Black’s expertise with dialogue, with the Scottish accent fully intact, never once lets up. She is indeed a master of language and a wordsmith of the highest order.
Turn the last page of The Brickworks I did. Yes, I had to get to the finish to find out everything, but how sorry I was to leave this immersive reading experience. There were cheers and tears along the way. Emotion and intrigue throughout were garnered and sculpted by the immensely talented Black. To be a reader and therefore a part of this unforgettable story is a highlight of this reading year. Lucy E.M. Black in The Brickworks has mapped out the human heart right down to its very core and has created a masterpiece.
Carrie Stanton has a BA in Political Science from the University of Calgary. She is the author of The Jewel and Beast Bot, and picture books, Emmie and the Fierce Dragon and The Gardener. Carrie loves to write stories that grow wings and transport readers everywhere. She reads and enjoys stories from every genre.