Young Hiram Walker is born a slave. His mother was sold away, but his father is the plantation owner. He was raised by an older slave woman but as a young teen is brought up to the big house to help take care of his white half-brother, the heir to the plantation.

Hiram’s story moves from Virginia to the Underground, to Philadelphia, and back. He has a mysterious power that makes him important to those who are fighting to help people in bondage escape, including to the woman they call Moses, Harriet Tubman.

The best novel I read this year. Coates’ use of a bit of magical realism does not distract from his powerful story of love, loss, freedom, and bondage.