I SET BEFORE YOU THIS DAY by D.E.W. Turner

I SET BEFORE YOU THIS DAY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A half-Kaw, half-white boy fights prejudice in the Wild West.

When Knoton, a “half-breed,” stumbles into the MacKenzie ranch on a lame horse, the locals are wary. But despite his obvious Native-American features and the deep fear of the Apache in the region, MacKenzie takes a chance on him. The locals aren’t the only ones afraid. Knoton is terrified, despite being led to this place by his “spirit guide,” a disembodied feminine voice which has never led him astray. It’s for good reason–his mother, a Native-American, suffered terribly for marrying a white man, and the hired hands and local townspeople who call him a savage don’t assuage his fears. Luckily, Knoton is noble and pure of heart and wins the confidence of the locals by performing the usual acts of valor, including melodramatically saving a child from the wheels of a passing stagecoach. Knoton slowly gains acceptance from the white community and begins to learn their customs, but struggles to reconcile the “white ways” with his Native-American traditions. The tension between Knoton’s white and Native-American halves could be interesting, but instead it is poorly developed and unconvincing. In tracing his story of acceptance and assimilation, the author attempts to present a kaleidoscopic portrait of the ranch and the local town, an ambitious project that unfortunately does not succeed. Characters appear and disappear within the span of a few pages, and those who do stick around are static. Storylines abruptly stop for no apparent reason–a conflict between the Mackenzie’s and a rival ranching family, an obvious plot vehicle, goes absolutely nowhere–and the novel disintegrates into a series of events strung together without rhyme or reason, stumbling along to a predictable and maudlin conclusion.

A tired story hampered by amateurish prose and execution.

Pub Date: March 28th, 2007
ISBN: 978-1-4259-8258-4
Program: Kirkus Indie
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