The Dawn Country
By Kathleen O’Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear
Published by Forge Books
Kathleen O’Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear wrote The Dawn Country as the sequel to their best-selling novel People of the Thunder. The Dawn Country continues to follow the Iroquois people of North America’s past. It tells the story of Gannajero, a witch, who buys children from the surrounding villages and sells them into slavery and many other unimaginable situations. Her story is illuminated by the brave children—Odion, Tutelo, Wrass, Zateri and others--who live in and survive captivity along with the brave warriors—Koracoo, Gonda, among others--who attempt to rescue them.
I struggled to pick up this book and start reading. Even though I love to read, the images of historical fiction deterred me. I imagined a book that read something like my high school history book, boring and utterly filled to the brim with facts. And while high school history was one of my favorite subjects, I felt no need to repeat it. However, this book was quite to the contrary. Don’t get me wrong. The novel was impeccably researched but it also possessed a captivating story somewhere between the histories of these people.
The Dawn Country was a good read. I didn’t want the story to end. It had several factors working for it—an intertwining story, an otherworldliness, and the fact that the reader does not need to read the first novel to enjoy this one.
I love when a story intertwines, following the lives of several different characters. This book does that and does it well. While the main story belonged to Odion, a child captured by Gannajero, sometimes the story followed Gannajero and her warriors then Odion, his parents and their group and at times even shadowy figures. The novel is one journey that shows how each person came to be in his or her position and a part of the story. By the end, I found myself able to sympathize with each of them.
Aside from its intertwined story, The Dawn Country also has the ability to transport its reader to a secret Native American world not only by the description of the terrain and the people but also through their plight in crossing the land and water—the way in which they did it--the tools they used and the clothes they wore. And that was only the beginning, the beliefs they held and the ways in which they chose to adapt to circumstance pushed the reader into that world.
Although The Dawn Country is the second novel in the series, it can be read and enjoyed without reading the first. The Iroquois people are the subject matter of the first novel, however, the second novel is set up in a manner that spells out everything you need to know. I never read the People of the Longhouse novel and I followed it easily. Although I do recommend not skipping the Nonfiction Introduction, it helped a lot in prefacing the novel. I can’t wait for the next novel in the series but in the meantime I have People of the Longhouse, the first novel in the series, to satisfy my appetite.
The Dawn Country is a story not to be missed. I liken the story telling to that of The Other Boleyn Girl in that the story is encased with every aspect of the time period; you leave with a better understanding of an era, a smile on your face and a story in your heart.
If you enjoyed The Other Boleyn Girl then you’ll love The Dawn Country. Go out and buy a copy today or stay tuned to my blog for a chance to win one.