Will, resident of an English settlement on the edge of the American wilderness in 1643, risks everything when he lets a wise and powerful Native American shaman provide guidance.
Squamiset, a former English captive, has a canny awareness of Will’s odd out-of-body experiences. Their growing friendship—peppered with the man’s seemingly magical feats—provokes retaliation from the colony’s leader, Rockingham, who is driven to imprison Will and a young native friend. After Squamiset choreographs a breathless rescue, the three head east and then bravely paddle all the way to Nantucket in a dugout canoe. Natives there eventually welcome the group, leading to an idyllic interlude before Rockingham reappears, determined to have vengeance at any cost. The superstitious, incendiary passions of the settlers are effectively and thoughtfully contrasted against the temperate attitude of the Native Americans. Immersive, like the best of historical fiction, Will’s world is so believably depicted that the looming threat from Rockingham infiltrates even the more cheerful aspects of the tale. Suspense is effectively sustained right up to the epilogue that hints—in the form of myth—at Will’s eventual future. Whether the uncertainty of his ultimate situation is the setup for a sequel is unclear although readers would no doubt welcome a further adventure.
This riveting portrayal of early Colonial New England shines a speculative but compelling light on the time and place. (Historical fiction. 11-15)