Saturday, September 22, 2012

[Review] Barbara Reilly by Carl Grimsman

Synopsis:  Indian arrowheads have been turning up in the fields since before Grampa’s time, but no one imagined the secret that would reveal itself to Barbara.

In the summer of 1948, Barbara Reilly discovers something truly magical in the woods of her parents’ farm. Her stunning encounter calls her to make decisions that defy the wishes of others. Events set into motion invite a dark invasion to the wholesome upstate New York family.

As danger descends, Barbara is the only one fully aware. What sort of power can a thirteen-year-old girl summon, to stand up to the threat? What help can she hope to muster, through her connection to another girl, from the distant past, who lived and struggled on the same land?

BARBARA REILLY is a historical fantasy woven with mystery and courage.

For ages 12 and up.

My review:  It has been a while since I’ve read any historical fiction. It used to be a genre that I consumed in massive qualities but lately it seems like I read more paranormal, urban fantasy, and memoirs than anything else. I was recently offered the chance to review Barbara Reilly, and I’m really glad that I did. Barbara Reilly has rekindled my interest in reading stories that take place in times long ago.

Barbara Reilly is a small town, 1940’s farm girl who shares a fascination of all things Native American with her grandfather. On a school field trip she finds an Eagle feather, and sees it as a sign of changes to come. Then one day while she is putting up hay, she sees an Indian girl at the edge of the woods beckoning her to follow. The girl seems to be out of time and place. Barbara follows her into the woods where she comes across three perfectly preserved wigwams. They don’t look like they have aged a day, and Barbara has never seen them before. The wigwams as well as the girl seem to have come through time and space. Inside the wigwam are wonderful, well preserved items that the Native Americans used on a daily basis as well as spiritual items and ceremonials masks. Barbara hears the wigwams tell her that she is a protector. 

Barbara shares her discovery with Grandpa, who loves Native American lore as much as she does, and who sparked her interest long ago with stories and legends. Barbara decides that she has to give these items back to the Iroquois people who once inhabited the land the Reilly farm is currently on. Grandpa and Barbara take a trip to the Iroquois reservation and make arrangements for the Chief to come and take the artifacts. Meanwhile Barbara is sensing danger and having strange visions. She senses that the danger is associated with the wigwams. She has to find a way to protect them until the Iroquois can claim them. 

The story is interwoven with stories of Nawa, the Indian girl Barbara sees the day she finds the Wigwam. Nawa’s people must flee their land because of the Revolutionary War. Nawa’s grandfather is the medicine man of her tribe, and she is in training as well. Together they are able to preserve the wigwams for future time. 

What is the danger that Barbara senses? Will she be able to defeat it? How were Nawa and her grandfather able to preserve the wigwams? Read Barbara Reilly to find out.

Carl Grimsman is a master story teller. I can tell by the depth of the historical content that he spent much time researching not only the 1940’s but also the Iroquois. Grimsman’s world building is so well done that I feel as if I’m right there with Nawa and Barbara in their respective parts of the story. The book is extremely well edited. I didn’t notice any errors in spelling, grammar or sentence structure.

Barbara is an intuitive young woman. She has a strong sense of values and family. She shows extreme courage in the face of danger. It impressed me that Barbara was willing to give the wigwam’s contents back to the Iroquois even though her family could have used the money from selling the items. Additionally, Barbara, her brother and Grandpa all protect the items and each other in the face of danger. Barbara and her brother sometimes have a strained relationship as he doesn’t understand her and Grandpa’s obsession with all things Indian, and he is struggling with balancing his work and his passion. I have some intense feelings about the villain and his sense of entitlement, but I won’t discuss that as I don’t want to give anything away.

Overall, this book was an interesting read that would be suitable for middle grade readers through adult.

About the author:  Carl Grimsman resides in the high desert of central Arizona, far from the green valleys and concrete canyons of his New York State youth. For years, while developing his writing skills, he supported himself through wholistic farming and innovative home improvement. Carl now channels his creativity into vivid adventure tales for children and young adults of all ages, inspired by the natural world and historical pulse of his surroundings and travels.

Carl’s novels and short stories reflect lovingly on other times, often weaving spiritual and magical elements into his meticulously researched and generally rural themes.

Buy for Kindle for $3.99 here,

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