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April 10, 1919. The war in Europe, the Great War, the War to End All Wars, is over—America and her allies have defeated the German forces. The USS Mongolia arrives in Boston carrying over 5,000 soldiers and sailors returning from France. Thousands are gathered on Commonwealth Pier to welcome the returning doughboys, dancing, waving flags, singing, and celebrating the safe return of their loved ones.

But war changes things. It changes nations, and it changes people, both those who fought and those who waited anxiously back home. One soldier among the thousands arriving in Boston on this day is not joining in the celebrations. He is a young man from Holyoke, Massachusetts. He enlisted out of a sense of duty to his nation, little knowing the pain, the hurt he would suffer. His wounds are not those of gunshots or mustard gas or influenza, they are wounds of the heart and the soul, and they are deep.

In Darkest Before Dawn, Book 4 of the Trolley Days Series, Massachusetts author Robert T. McMaster traces the lives of four young people growing up in a time of turmoil and wrenching change for their country, their hometown, and themselves.



Darkest Before Dawn
by Robert T. McMaster
Unquomonk Press, 2022
332 pages, 50 illustrations
ISBN 9798428349832



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THE TROLLEY DAYS BOOK SERIES


Trolley Days Book Series


The nineteen-teens was a tumultuous era in American history. The pace of social change was dizzying: the rising tide of worker unrest, the battle for women's suffrage, the scourge of discrimination against minorities. New technologieselectricity, the telephone, the automobile–were transforming life. Meanwhile the war raging in Europe was drawing America inexorably into its vortex.

Author Robert T. McMaster transports his readers back in time to early 20th century America in the Trolley Days Series of historical novels. Set in a bustling New England industrial city, these books follow the lives of teenagers Jack Bernard and Tom Wellington through good times and bad, hope and despair, love and loss. Readers young and old will be captivated by the world of their grandparents and great-grandparents, an era seemingly remote that nonetheless speaks to us across the generations.

Trolley Days, The Dyeing Room, Noah’s Raven, and Darkest Before Dawn are currently available in paperback and in several eBook formats.



Trolley DaysTrolley Days is the story of an unlikely friendship between two boys growing up in Holyoke, Massachusetts, in the nineteen-teens. Jack Bernard is the son of a mill worker who emigrated from Canada, Tom Wellington the son of the mill owner. Jack is shy and socially a bit awkward, Tom self-assured and smooth-talking. But for all their differences, the two boys have much in common. They love fishing, sports, and all manner of youthful tomfoolery. Each has suffered the loss of a sibling, tragedies that have affected both families deeply.

In the opening chapter a blizzard is approaching as Jack boards a train for the long trip to Boston. He has received a cryptic letter informing him that Tom is in a Boston jail. Despite a recent falling-out between the two, Jack still considers Tom his best friend, and he refuses to allow a snowstorm to prevent him from going to Tom’s aid. Soon Jack will be plunged into a mystery that calls on all his courage and determination to solve, even as his friend’s life hangs in the balance. To save his friend, Jack will need the assistance of Tom’s sister, Anne, but that will require Jack and Anne to reconcile their fractured relationship.

Does friendship have its limits? Can bonds of trust, once broken, be repaired? Can we learn from life’s tragedies and move on, or must we carry them like lead weights on our hearts forever? In Trolley Days it seems it is the young who bear the heaviest of life’s burdens and must marshal the strength to free themselves and their parents.





The Dyeing RoomSpring - 1917. War is raging in Europe and America has just cast its lot against the German war machine. Back home, the nation is reeling with social strife: workers marching for their rights, immigrants demanding fair treatment, suffragettes clamoring for the vote. In Holyoke, Massachusetts, seventeen-year-old Jack Bernard has a new job at one of the city’s largest textile mills, hoping to save money for college. Meanwhile, his friend, Tom Wellington, appears to have taken control of his demons and set himself on a new course. Soon the lives of both young men, their families and friends, will be torn asunder by forces and events far beyond their control.

The Dyeing Room, Robert T. McMaster’s second novel, is an absorbing blend of adventure, mystery, and romance populated with characters so life-like they seem to leap from the pages and materialize before our very eyes. Readers young and old will be captivated by this story from a century past, the world of our forebears, an era that, however distant, still speaks to us across the generations.







Noah's Raven
September, 1917. The nation has entered the Great War, the War to End All Wars. While young Americans by the hundreds of thousands march into battle in Europe, back home the nation's social fabric is torn asunder by patriotic fervor and xenophobia. When two German-American classmates are taunted in the schoolyard, 14-year-old Claire Bernard rushes to their defense. Her noble intentions soon plunge her into a dark world of international conspiracy where prejudice and suspicion blur distinctions between friend and foe, good and evil, where she could well become the next victim. Noah's Raven, a story from a century past that speaks to us across the generations.








Darkest Before DawnApril 10, 1919. The war in Europe, the Great War, the War to End All Wars, is over—America and her allies have defeated the German forces. The USS Mongolia arrives in Boston carrying nearly 5,000 soldiers and sailors returning from France. Thousands are gathered on Commonwealth Pier to welcome the returning doughboys, dancing, waving flags, singing, and celebrating the safe return of their loved ones.

But war changes things. It changes nations, and it changes people, both those who fought and those who waited anxiously back home. One soldier among the thousands arriving in Boston on this day is not joining in the celebrations. He is a young man from Holyoke, Massachusetts. He enlisted out of a sense of duty to his nation, little knowing the pain, the hurt he would suffer. His wounds are not those of gunshots or mustard gas or influenza, they are wounds of the heart and the soul, and they are deep.

In Darkest Before Dawn, Book 4 of the Trolley Days Series, Massachusetts author Robert T. McMaster traces the lives of four young people growing up in a time of turmoil and wrenching change for their country, their hometown, and themselves.






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