In 1747 Pennsylvania, a trading post on the American frontier was an unsettling place, allowing little opportunity for a woman’s happiness. This is truest perhaps for seventeen-year-old Katie O’Toole, the thirteenth child of an unhappy Irish immigrant family. Yet, Katie dreams of a different life, unaware that someone far away was dreaming of her. Evocative of Geraldine Brook’s Caleb’s Crossing, K.B. Laugheed’s extraordinary debut novel, The Spirit Keeper is Katie’s engrossing first-person account, as she leaves behind her painful past in order to accept a new identity and the great love that comes with it.
When savages raid the O’Toole home, Katie is taken captive by two strange Indians who claim they have been searching for her. Protected by his companion Hector, Syawa is a gifted holyman who can see the future through dreams. Syawa claims he has seen Katie in his vision: a Creature of Fire and Ice who will bring a great gift to his people.
Despite her flaming red hair and ice-blue eyes, Katie looks upon him incredulously, but faced with the alternative of returning to her abusive family, she agrees to join them. Soon, their travel westward takes an irreversible turn. Katie discovers that to fulfill Syawa’s vision, she must become his Spirit Keeper, embarking on an epic journey that will change her life—and heart—forever.
I had a really hard time getting into THE SPIRIT KEEPER at first. I found myself getting confused as the story lacked any direction. I wanted more details on Katie’s early captivity and even before that with her home life. (Her mother and sister were nasty to her at the beginning and I wasn’t sure why, though I got more insight later). Likewise, with the Indian characters. There wasn’t any background on them – they were just ‘there’. However, I was interested in finding out what happened to the characters so I kept reading (even though I figured it would be pretty predictable, it wasn’t!!).
The story really began to take shape about a hundred pages in. It went in a direction I wasn’t expecting which was a pleasant surprise. The characters started to seem real to me and I cared what happened to them. Maybe I wasn’t entirely pleased with the ending, but sequel??
This is K. B. Laugheed‘s debut novel and I think she’ll only get better. There is a lot of promise in this book and in her writing. I’d love a sequel (and maybe a prequel at some point?) and would definitely read it despite my slow start with this one.
Thanks to TLC Book Tours for allowing me to be part of this blog tour and sending me a copy of the book via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review. If you’d like to read more reviews, check out the other stops on the tour HERE.
If you’d like to read THE SPIRIT KEEPER, I’m lucky enough to be able to offer a copy to the wonderful readers of my blog! Open to Canada and the US, all you have to do is leave a comment with your email address. Contest ends December 10th.