Sunday, November 9, 2008

Spirited (Once Upon a Time Series)

by Nancy Holder

Summary: In My of 1756 war is breaking out between the British and the French. During this highly dangerous time, Isabella Stevens is traveling with her father to the Britsih stronghold of Fort William Henry. In the forest, Wusamequin, the young and handsome medicine man, looks to avenge the death of his wife and child at the hands of British soldiers. When Wusamequin spots Isabella and her father, he alerts his warriors to capture them. But Wusamequin is quite taken with how bravely Isabella battles. He orders the warriors to spare her and her father, and they are dragged back to their village. However, many members of the Mohican tribe still want them to be killed. In a desperate plea to Wusamequin, Isabella vows to stay as his hostage if he lets her father go.

My review: As previously stated, I'm a sucker for the retold fairytale. In my mind they are the literary equivalent to a fudgsicle--sweet, fun to eat, zero nutrional value, and easily polished off in one sitting. I enjoyed reading this retelling of Beauty and the Beast. NH definitely wrote it into a setting that I had never read before, which always succeeds in capturing my interest. She admits to being inspired a great deal by "Last of the Mohicans" which is one of my favorite movies (no I have NOT read the book). The story itself was unique and dealt a great deal in Isabella and Wusamequins views and prejudices about eachother and then, in turn, the British perception of Native Americans and vice versa. Both sides were portrayed as equally bloodthirsty and vengeful--but with a sense that it was all some huge misunderstanding that could be cleared up if they would just stop fighting long enough to speak to one another. Clearly, according to history, that didn't happen. That having been said, I don't know enough about Native American culture or its individual tribe culture to make a statement as to the veracity of the characters in this book. Where they wearing the right clothes? cooking the right food? speaking the right language? I have no idea, but I have a feeling that the ACLU could have a field day with this book in terms of its portrayal of the Native American. I, quite frankly, dispute a few of the assertions made in the above summary (found on the back of the book). As far as I can see (teensy spoiler here), Isabella never vowed to stay as a hostage but was instead the only one that was caught in an escape attempt. Throughout the book I kept having to hop from one genre (historical fiction) to another (fantasy) to quickly for my taste and I found the end to be a little bit too "folkloric" for me. I guess I wanted a good old happy-on-this-earth ending. Still, as retellings go, it was definitely a unique and enjoyable one time read.

My rating: 3 stars (Fun read. One time. Will recommend to my Mom, a fellow "Last of the Mohicans" fan) RATED PG

If I could sum this book up in one phrase it would be: It was a good fudgsicle...but I'm not sure the fudgsicle would be universally appreciated.

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