Book Series Review -Creek Country Saga; Beneath the Blackberry Moon, Books 1&2

SUMMARY

Adela McGirth is thankful her life is spared after a run-in with a small party of Creek Indians in a meadow by her home. Little does she know that this will not be the only meeting with the Indian warrior who saves her life.

An Indian attack on the fort where Adela and her mother and sisters are staying for protection, leaves her fiance and hundreds others dead. But an old connection between her mother and another Indian sees them saved but taken captive.

Upon arrival in the village of Kossati, Adela once again catches the eye of her savior, Totka Lawe. He is impressed by her courage and compassion and a spark of attraction ignites between them.

Despite their differences of language, culture and religious beliefs, Totka determines to claim the female he names Copper Woman for himself. Meanwhile Adela, her mother and sister must learn to survive and understand a very different way of life.

The longer Adela lives with her captors, the more she becomes Copper Woman as she builds relationships with those whose hearts are really not that different from her own. And the more she finds her heart bound to the warrior Totka, whose desire to care for his clan in peace conflicts with the warring desire to defend their lands.

Despite a deep love between them, Totka and Copper Woman wonder whether the differences between them are greater than their ability to overcome.

MY REVIEW

I’ve been hearing very positive buzz about this series recently and it comes very highly rated. Still, I was hesitant to spend my limited reading time on a book which tackles early American Indian culture. Growing up in Texas, where our first state residents were a melting pot of Spanish, Mexican, Indian and other cultures, I thought I had my fill of Indian history.

But after reading the first two books of this series I learned how wrong my bias was. My exposure to this culture has been mostly in dry facts taught in history classes. But author April Gardner made it come alive in a way that completely immersed me in a way of life long gone.

The first book in the series, The Red Feather, focuses mainly on the relationship that grows between the Muscogee/Creek Indian Totka and white settler, Adela. It is a fascinating glimpse of the clash between two different cultures while also portraying their similarity of heart. This is a topic which is still relevant today. It was a good reminder for me not to have pre-conceived notions of any culture I have not experienced. Though the Indians and the settlers live and believe differently, their basic desires are the same; peace, family, security etc.

I love how the relationship between Totka and Adela develops slowly even though there is an instant attraction. Although Totka is at war with her people, his love for her is color blind. And Adela’s gradual transformation into Copper Woman (named so for her red hair) is a beautiful journey of accepting a different way of life.

The second book in this series The Sacred Writings is told mostly from Totka’s perspective after he and Copper Woman are separated. Because of this, we get a much more in-depth look at the tribal culture and beliefs of the Indians in the Southeastern United States during the early 1800’s. I found myself fascinated by their daily life, their family structure, their “heathen” religious beliefs etc. I’ve read other books which also tackle Indian cultures in early America. While some of them portray the actions and life, none of them delve into the why behind it. The beliefs that drive them to live the way they do. I came away with a much better understanding of what motivated their actions. I also experienced sadness and compassion for what the Indians suffered at the hands of American government expansion.

No review I can write will do this series justice. It truly is one of the most carefully researched, well-written, compassionate and bias challenging stories I’ve ever read. I love that the author chose to focus on a time and location in history that doesn’t receive as much attention. Many early American novels are set in the Northeast and along the eastern seaboard not in the Gulf Coast territories.

Though I’ve only read the first two books, there are three more that I wish to read. Two of them feature characters which were extremely unlikeable. I cant wait to see what the author does with their stories. It is very rare that I become so engaged with a villainous character that I want to read their story, but that is just a testament to this author’s talent. Especially considering the books average in length at over 400 pages. That’s a big investment of my coveted reading time.

So, I guess what I’m saying is read this series! Don’t let the excuses of limited time, lack of interest in the historical setting or culture, or anything else keep you from missing out on this amazing saga, like it almost did me. Never have I been more glad that I ignored my own bias and preconceptions.

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