Hardy settlers and savage Native Americans trade blows in the changing 19th-century Pacific Northwest.
The forests and waterways of Puget Sound and British Columbia are as beautiful now as they were in the 1850s, when pioneers were drawn to the region’s fertile land and sea. However, like their enterprising brethren elsewhere on the continent, white settlers in the Pacific Northwest faced raids and brutal attacks from native inhabitants. Marauding Indians throughout the area—motivated by revenge, bloodlust or profit—made life difficult for many homesteaders. The most fearsome tribe was the Haida, led by a vicious killer named Anah. Seeking vengeance for a series of attacks that left his loved ones dead, Anah vows to take the head of a powerful “tyee,” one of the local white settlers. The unfortunate target of his rage is Isaac Evers, a prominent settler on Whidbey Island. Isaac is married to strong, resilient Emmy, and when Anah savagely kills Isaac and kidnaps his son, Emmy must venture into the dark, dangerous northern environs to reclaim her boy and avenge her husband. LaSalle tells this story with the depth and enthusiasm for detail of a true historian, but for many readers, his thoroughness will undoubtedly impede the action and pace. In fact, there’s barely a discernible plot for the first 70 pages of the book. This dense, lumbering initial section feels more like a textbook than a novel, and only the most devoted readers will be able to traverse the intricate depictions of shorelines and naval maneuvers. However, once the action begins on that fateful night at the Evers homestead, LaSalle skillfully entwines the paths of his well-built characters and shines as a historian and storyteller of the first order.
An earnest, intelligent treat for fans of historical fiction.