Author: Sheri Lewis Wohl
Publisher: Bold Stroke Books
Publication Date: 1. September 2017
Rating: 1./5. Stars
Diversity: LGBT Characters (lesbian MC, lesbian SC), PoC (Native American SC)
TW: murder, colonialism
Summary: Molly Williams is a powerful hereditary witch who manages to keep her powers under control as she tries to be normal. Most of the time, it works.
An invitation from friends Winnie and Angus is just the diversion she needs right now, and she jumps at the offer to go backpacking along the Umatilla River in northeast Oregon. When a freak storm forces them to take shelter in a secluded, crumbling cabin, their trip takes an unexpected turn. The moment Molly touches a leather-bound book discovered in the floorboards, they’re transported back in time.
Only with the help of the mysterious and beautiful Native American woman Aquene do they stay one step ahead of a band of witch hunters. Will Molly find the right magic to get them home before the hunters find her? Or will she risk it all to stay at Aquene’s side?
Disclaimer: I received an e-copy of this book on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
This book starts out with good intentions and a fascinating plot. Our three main characters are transported to the past, to an America were settlers have just started arriving. They meet a Native American Woman, who is sure that Molly can help her save her people and defeat the looming shadow that’s trying to destroy them. There’s also the witch hunters that are close on Molly’s tail and they are dangerous and deadly. As if trying to survive in the wilderness of America in 1873 wasn’t already hard enough.
The stakes are high and there is a sense of urgency accompanying the book. Most of the plot of the book (except for a time jump in the beginning and another in the end) happens in less than three days. However, I think the book would have greatly benefited from more time (especially in the romance department). Like this, Molly and Aquene meet, immediately trust each other (which is okay, they don’t really have another choice) and fall in love in just two days and one night.
Angus’ and Winnie’s relationship was far better developed and made more sense, probably since they already knew each other. They get separated from the group and have to try to survive together. While it was nice to see how much Angus supported Winnie and get some body-positivity in the mix, they too would have benefited from a longer storyline.
Another character is Matthew, the main antagonist. I really like that he got his own voice because it made him even more terrifying. He was an obsessed, incredibly creepy guy and I quite enjoyed his parts (and cheered at his demise).
And now it’s time for the things that bothered me. Because sadly as interesting (yet underdeveloped) as the characters were, there are a lot of things that were bad plot-wise. Spoiler Warning Applies. Rant incoming.
Aquene sees Molly as the savior of her people. When she finds out that in the future America is mostly white and Native Americans are gone from the land that is rightfully theirs, she is terrified. Molly is a bit sad, but ultimately she just says that many white people are sorry for what happened. Many would like to change that it happened if they had the chance. But oh well, it happened, no can do now. Oh, I would have a chance now? Uh, oh well, uhm, gotta go. Byeeeee!!! The “you will save my people” thing is never mentioned again and in the end, Aquene is apparently okay with her entire culture being whipped out by colonists as long as she can be with a girl, she just met two days ago. But it’s fine. Because they are soulmates.
Probably one of my biggest problems with this book is how flat it fell compared to its interesting premise. There’s insta love, which really ruined their relationship for me. (let people get to know each other before they fall head over heels for each other and turn their entire lives upside down for once please!) There’s Molly not at all caring about the plight Native American people have gone through and are still going through today due to colonization. And Aquene is okay with that. Because Love. Oh, did I mention that she leaves her entire family behind when she takes off with Molly to go to the 21st century? But it’s fine because now she can teach the language that died out because her entire tribe was slaughtered. What a good ending. All the main characters survived, so that’s good right?
I really wanted to like this book. I read did. But writing a book that starts out with the premise of saving witches and Native Americans and then just saving the white witches without a single thought to Native American history just doesn’t work.
Aquene also got a voice by herself and we get to see her terror when she sees what the future holds, but we never get to see her fight against that. She’s just there to support Molly, the white savior of her people, except she actually just saves her own hide and oh well, they have to leave now, how convenient.
All in all, this book was such a huge disappointment and I’m quite sad to see that no other reviewer has spoken out about this huge problem in the plot. Native Americans are not just a part of America’s history. They still exist today. They are not just a plot device to have some spirit guide in a book, who tells the white heroine what she is supposed to do. If this book had just featured white people it could have been an unfortunate oversight. But the author obviously knows at least a bit about the terror Native Americans had to face and yet still the one Native American character in her story ends up abandoning her people like that. And we are supposed to feel good about that?
Sorry, for me, this book was just a huge miss.