422 pages / also electronic
I was asked to read and review this book by the author, and furnished a book in exchange for an honest review.
It is obvious Ms. Ennis did a tremendous amount of research, and she is a great teller of stories. I enjoyed this book from the first chapter to the end, and was sorry it had to end. Why, then, you ask, do I only give her 4 stars?
This story takes place in the Northwest, along the Columbia River, before the Europeans arrived. It is well written and absolutely fascinating, especially the 'vision' scenes where Asku, the hero of the book, sees his ancestor and learns from and about him. Unfortunately, for me, there were too many Indian words where standard English could have been used. Perhaps it is just me, but I found the use of so many Indian words off-putting. Since we read with our ears, and hear the story in our head, I didn't know how to pronounce them, and because they were so unfamiliar, I wasn't sure I kept them straight. She does have a glossary of terms in the back of the book, but I read an electronic version. My personal preference would have been to use the standard names for the tribes and locations, and Native names for the people.
I found this book to be a page-turner, and had trouble putting it down. Although it isn't what I would call an action book (or an adrenalin gusher), I became very involved with the characters, and had to turn the page to find out what they did next, how they extricated themselves from the situations they got into. The hero and his cohorts, are young, mid teens, and while this book is more than suitable for the Young Adult readers (if they aren't afraid of 422 pages), it is not a YA book. It is just a well executed book for readers of any age.
Asku comes of age in this book. The son of the Chief, he is in love with a young maid of his tribe, and learns he must sacrifice his hoped for marriage to her, and marry a maid from one of the Sea Tribes—a woman he's never met—but alliances must be formed and or maintained. He reacts in a reasonable manner for a boy in love with someone else, but learns what he must. When his father is mortally wounded, his anger takes over, and he and his friends track the killer, leaving the village and the people without a leader, without a Chief's strength and wisdom. His future as Chief hangs on the line.
Asku and the characters in this book act and react as one would expect them to, not as all-knowing adults, but as boys and girls who, by the end of the book, become men and women.
There are maps in the back of the book; I would have preferred them in the front, and perhaps on white instead of what looked like old skin. I recognized them, but could not read them. Again, I read an electronic version.
If you are at all interested in the history, or in this case, pre-history, of the Northwest and the people who lived here, I think you will enjoy this book tremendously. I know I am excited that this is Book 1, which tells me that there will be a Book 2, and I can hardly wait to read it!