Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Wednesday Wonders: THE BUCKSKIN TRAIL

Today's Wednesday Wonders features 
The Buckskin Trail 
By JoAnn Arnold

About the Book:

“This is what my parents died for?” Kelzi whispered, looking at the battered buckskin.

Ahyoka nodded. “And now you must take it with you and protect it.”

A miracle saved Kelzi’s life when she was younger, now it’s her turn to save others. When Kelzi discovers the truth about her parents' deaths, she steps onto a dangerous path, one where she must avenge those who have died and protect the land of her Cherokee people—at any cost.


       Finally the fire chief heaved a deep sigh. He took a step backward, mentally calculating something in his mind. He furrowed his brows, rubbing his fingers over his chin. “I’ve been in this home numerous times. As I recall, the front door was approximately fifteen feet straight ahead of me, and I ask myself, why were they unable to escape . . . unless the fire started where they stood.” He paused, his eyes searching for something not visible. He shook his head. “Amedohi was a respected lawyer throughout the state of North Carolina. He and Kate made a handsome couple.” A deep sadness revealed itself in his eyes as he cleared his throat. “I’ll leave you to your work.” He turned and walked away.
        The investigating officer pulled the radio from his belt, pressing his thumb against the button while wiping away the perspiration that trickled down his face. “I need a forensics team at the core of the fire investigation,” he said, his voice scratchy from the inhalation of smoke.
       He lifted his eyes and quickly scanned the area around him. Strapping a surgical mask over his nose and mouth to prevent any more of the gray residue from getting into his lungs, the officer brushed ash and debris from what remained of a rib cage. He removed long tweezers from inside his case and slipped them between the pallid bones, blindly searching through the rubble when his radio crackled and a voice informed him that the forensics team was two minutes out.
     Time was short. Sweat stung his eyes. His throat felt dry. His heart pounded. Moving rapidly, he found what he was looking for. His work was finished and two objects were safely inside his pocket; he cautiously scattered ashes around the area. He leaned back, letting the air flow through his lungs unhampered while his heart calmed to a steady beat. Still, his mouth felt like cotton, and he could taste the ash that had somehow found its way to his tongue. In fact, his clothes, hair, and skin were completely covered with the stuff.
       As soon as forensics arrived, the officer directed them to the evidence and then stepped away, letting the three men do their job. A few minutes later, he heard their voices meticulously identify and label each piece of evidence.
       When their work was done, the officer suggested that if the remains were those of Amedohi and Kate Tsali, it might be necessary to search for a third body . . . that of their eight-year-old daughter, Kelzi.
My Book Review:

My attention was immediately caught with the arson fire that claimed the lives of the parents—one Cherokee and one Irish—of an eight year-old girl, Kelzi Tsali. Hidden by her parents who realized they were under attack by unethical men willing to stoop to murder to steal a valuable land deed, Kelzi sees her parents’ murderers and with supernatural help, manages to escape and be raised to adulthood, hidden in plain sight. Only then can she, the hereditary chieftain of her tribe of Cherokee, reach her destiny as an adult and be able to help her people.

This story drew upon the Native American belief in the power of nature,  respect for Mother Earth, faith in God or a Great Spirit and the assistance of those who have already left this earth, but who have an interest in preserving their descendants. I felt the paranormal elements were handled well and in balance with a belief in a higher power. The setting took place in North Carolina, the original home of the Cherokee at the time the Europeans arrived on this continent. It could only take place here since the story reached back into the early legends that were tied to the land before the coming of the Europeans.

The author created memorable and believable characters, both Cherokee and those of European descent. I enjoyed the insight into the Cherokee culture. The romantic interest was introduced late, and I do think since Kelzi and Cassidy knew each other as children he could have been mentioned earlier in the book. Although he was not the main character, he added a nice balance to the story as it built towards its conclusion.

The focus was on Kelzi. The first part of the book moved a little slow as the author walked the reader through her growing up years and setting the stage for her mission in life. But, readers need to hang in there. Once Kelzi was called “home” to face her challenges as hereditary chieftain and keeper of the contract her tribe depended upon, the story exploded with suspense and action. I was unable to put the book down until I finished.

The book was well-written, interesting and exciting, and the romance elements were clean and proper. I highly recommend it. 

About JoAnn Arnold:

JoAnn Arnold was born in Price, Utah. Her first experience in creative writing was in authoring both Children's musicals and Adult Musicals for her community. Her musical, "Rosie the Riveter" received an honor in a special addition of the Smithsonian Magazine.

Her first book, "Miracles for Michael" was written as a Christmas Musical for her community Theatre. A few years later, she decided to turn it into a book.

It is her belief that it is with the gift of imagination that we create in ourselves the person we want to become, and she wanted to become an author so she did. "My dream is to be an artist who paints from the heart; to be an author who can take the imagination beyond that which is conceivable. I'm still in the infant stage of those dreams, but I run with the stars and, in the distance, I see the dreams fulfilled."

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