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Library Journal★ 01/01/2014
Based partially on real-life events during the mid-1600s in southern Canada near the shores of Lake Huron, this new book from Scotiabank Giller Prize winner Boyden (Through Black Spruce) centers on Bird, a Huron warrior and leader. Bird captures the Jesuit missionary Father Christophe and brings him back to his village with young Snow Falls, who is from the rival Iroquois tribe. Father Christophe immediately begins evangelizing but also absorbs the Huron nation's language and customs, while Snow Falls refuses to cooperate in any way with Bird or his people, being hostile to the point of wounding Bird, and herself, accidentally, which serves the purpose of uniting them instead. Gradually accepted into her new location, Snow Falls comes under the tutelage of Gosling, a wisewoman possessing magical powers. In the ongoing warfare with rival tribes, most frequently the Iroquois, the Huron's most dangerous enemies are the diseases from the foreigners. Weakened from battle and illness, Bird and other members of the tribe decide to move temporarily to a white settlement in hopes of escaping the Iroquois wrath. VERDICT In this long and detailed story, Boyden seeks to re-create the rhythms and patterns of living a life close to nature, battling the elements, and surviving in a harsh climate. Dignified and penetrating, this work offers themes of clashing cultures and religions that resonate in today's world. [See Prepub Alert, 12/9/13.]—James Coan, SUNY at Oneonta Lib.