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This review is from: Through Black Spruce (Kindle Edition)
'The Orenda' was my first foray into Joseph Boyden and I was so impressed that I bought a couple of his other, earlier, books to try. There is a thread running through all of these books in that one of the main characters is a 'Bird' and can trace back to their early, Cree Indian character of that name (as in 'The Orenda'). A further similarity is the style of alternating characters in each chapter. In 'Through Black Spruce', the two main characters are Will Bird and Annie, an uncle and niece and their interlocking stories are told in alternating chapters; it's a very effective story telling tactic.
This is a very slow paced and gentle book and, really, little actually seems to happen. The story emerges gradually rather than being set out at an early stage and this narrative is all the better for that. If you are looking for a fast paced and/or action packed romp, then look elsewhere 'cos it certainly isn't here. However, I was amazed at how gripping this slowly unravelling story becomes and I was almost immediately immersed in the characters and racing to read the next portion of their stories. This created a quirk for me: as each chapter ended and I began to read the following chapter, it now switched to the other character (either Will or Annie) and I resented being torn away from the story of just the previous page. But a couple of paragraphs in and I was again hooked into that story until, at the end of that chapter.... you get the idea.
What made this book special for me was the insight into the world of the native American Indians living on the borders between Canada and the USA, a genre of work I know very little about. For me, this book was just a little bit too slowly paced and I was disappointed that it doesn't, really, have a proper ending (actually, the ending is true to real life rather than fiction). I preferred 'The Orenda' but, then again, Mr Boyden wrote 'Through Black Spruce' in an earlier part of his career. I have still awarded four stars here as, criticism aside, the word that best describes this book is 'beautiful' and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I feel like a better person for having read it. I will move onto my next Joseph Boyden now because I do think that he's quite a special author.