Reviewed by Lisa Lickel
Wounded Spirits by April Gardner
"...a heroic story..."
April Gardner's debut novel Wounded Spirits is a heroic story about a little-documented era. In the early 1800s America was suffering. European and expanding white settlers and the native tribal people were at an impasse. Only the superior numbers and weapons of the whites, along with their dread diseases, forced the tribal peoples to give up their land and way of life. April tells the story of a Creek clan versus white settlers in what is now Georgia and Alabama.
Before you pick up this wonderfully-told debut novel, be warned that it is book one of a projected series and you will be left aching for more when you get to the last page.
Adela McGirth and her family farm near a small settlement that is at uneasy peace with a Creek tribe. In fact, Adela's father's first wife was a member of the tribe and he taught his second family to respect everyone. It's a respect that comes with a terrible price when an uprising of Creek warriors, the Red Sticks, battle the American settlers for their right to maintain their way of life and tribal territory. Adela's sister is killed and so, perhaps is her intended, a young soldier. Adela, a surviving sister, and their mother who is expecting a baby, are taken as slaves by one of the Creek, a man who had spent part of his childhood with the McGirths. Adela's father had been away while the skirmish took place and seeks revenge on his former friends when he presumes his family is killed.
In the several months that Adela and her family live with the clan, strange things happen to sway her sympathies in directions she cannot understand, especially when a young Creek protector, Nokose, makes it clear he wants her as his wife. Adela's faith becomes a matter of survival and a means of coping with her sister's increasing hostility and grief and her mother's difficult and every-obvious mortal pregnancy.
Nothing is easy in Aprils' story. Life and loyalty mingle with death and revenge in blurry lines. I find myself replaying events and motivations, reliving the story long after I finished reading. A Reader's Discussion Guide is included.
Lickel lives in Wisconsin with her high school teacher husband in a 150-year-old
Great Lakes ship captain's house. She is active in more than one historical society,
belongs to writing and reading clubs and is the editor in chief of Creative Wisconsin,
the magazine of Wisconsin Regional Writers. A graduate of the Christian Writer's
Guild, she has written newspaper features and magazine articles, radio theater,
and authored several inspirational novels. Find her online at http://lisalickel.com,