DISCLAIMER: My own novella is going to be published by this publisher. I purchased my own copy.
(And aside – This was my nook inaugural read!)
Aiyana is having a hard time dealing with her impending womanhood. She has to do things like cook now, and dress up nice, and weave baskets. She’d much rather play ball in the ball court with the guys, and hang out with her friend, Honovi. She’d be just as happy to leave that whole marriage thing to her sister, who is happy to do it.
However, the chief’s son has eyed him as his wife, and he’s not about to be denied. So she runs. She doesn’t intend to run far, but there are Spaniards lurking nearby, and they don’t hesitate at the chance to grab her.
Captive Spirit was utterly gripping and engaging. It was loaded with escapes and recaptures, and well-balanced high and low points. It is based on an extinct American Indian tribe in present-day Phoenix valley, known today ad the Hohokam. They vanished for reasons unknown in the sixteenth century, and Ms. Fichera’s novel works on the theory that Spanish explorers were behind the disappearance.
No book is perfect, and I do have just a few critiques. Toward the end, I did wish some things had been better established in the beginning. Because much of this novel takes place away from Aiyana’s home, we didn’t get much of a chance to experience her dread of basket-weaving, which becomes a plot point late in the story. I can understand Ms. Fichera’s reasons for keeping that part of the novel short–it would have been a slow read if she had dragged it out. But the basket-weaving angle seemed to come out of the blue at the end. There was also a certain event at the end of the story that was a mite too convenient for the plot.
Aiyana was an extremely likable character, with a lot of grit and determination. She gives her captors a great deal of trouble, especially when she befriends their pet wolf well enough that he is no longer of much use in tracking her. She recognizes their strengths and takes advantage of their weaknesses. She leaves tokens for anyone who might have followed her to find.
The Apache make an appearance in this novel, and they of course are alive and well nowadays in Northern Arizona. Ms. Fichera gives them a balanced presentation, with characters both antagonistic and protagonistic.
Captive Spirit was a captivating and quick read. Lovers of historic fiction will enjoy it, especially those of you who, like me, enjoy reading about other cultures. It felt well-researched and real, and I recommend it highly.