Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Buckskin Trail by JoAnn Arnold, a review

I'm proud to be on JoAnn Arnold's blog tour team for her new Young Adult book, The Buckskin Trail.

The book is about Cherokee-Irish Kelzi Tsali, who saw her parents murdered when she was a girl.

The back cover blurb reads: A miracle saved Kelzi's life when she was younger. Now it's her turn to save others. Discovering the truth about her parents' deaths places Kelzi on a dangerous path, one where she must avenge those who have died and protect the land of her Cherokee people--at all costs. Old traditions battle against modern values in this thrilling mystery!

Kelzi survives the trauma of her childhood because of her support system. She's taken to the reservation to live with her grandmother. There, with her extended family and the lore that her grandmother teaches her, continuing the education begun by her Cherokee father, she stays grounded, focused, and prepared for the tasks that are ahead of her.

Arnold's newest book has elements of fantasy in it as well as mystery. Or, if you prefer, spirituality, for one of the main secondary characters is a ghost, though Kelzi calls him her guardian angel. His name is Shannon.

Shannon is my favorite character in the book. A Scotsman when he was alive in the 1700s, he is colorful (can you have a colorful ghost?), inventive, and wise. And good with a needle.

 "It seems ye jumped right into the well like a slung-stane,” Shannon tells Kelzi when she meets a handsome, all-grown-up friend from her childhood who obviously thinks Kelzi turned out pretty well, too. “Me thinks ye’ve caught his attention.”

Shannon has lots of pithy words of wisdom:
      "Thar’ll be those ‘oo know of ye, but’ll nae know yer face.” Shannon’s voice broke through her thoughts…. Thar’ll be those ‘oo know nothin’ at all. But they’ll be glancin’ at ye as ye walk by, fer the lovely face they’ll be ssin’, an’ yer ta smile kindly as ta nae be thought unfriendly.”
     “I think what you’re trying to tell me is that by smiling, I’ll come across as a tall woman with a pretty face, a friendly smile, and soon forgotten. To show no emotion, I’ll be seen as an unfriendly woman with an attitude.”
     “Couldn’t have said it better meself.” Shannon gave her one of his angelic smiles.

The Buckskin Trail starts a little slow as you learn about Kelzi's childhood, adolescence and education, but it ratchets up when she receives a centuries-old parchment deed wrapped in buckskin for safekeeping. This is what her parents were killed for, and the people who murdered her parents are now coming after her.

With Shannon calling the intricate shots, justice is served, and there are several happy endings. It doesn't get any more satisfying than that.