Land of the Blue Mist by Susan Mallgrave

I really enjoyed this book and the perspective that it offered to show: of a girl, very much a part of two worlds, with a British father and a Cherokee mother, who is encouraged by her father to engage in the wider world outside of her village, in a bid to provide her people with the means to survive in a world which is attempting to deny their place in it and remove them from their ancestral lands.

It is truly a battle for survival and Aster encounters challenges both within her village and family as well as external to it and Mallgrave shows this well in her creation of characters, her dialogue and her plot.

Aster is a lively character and we follow her through her life, from girl sent away to school to learn the ways of the European Americans, to the woman with children, who becomes a figurehead in her village.

Mallgrave is good at showing with a light hand the choices that Native Americans faced – which were limited due to the acquisitive nature of government and the superior attitude of most towards them. In both Aster’s father and grandfather, she shows the awareness that in order to survive, you have to learn to adapt, even if this goes against everything that you have known before. However, there is also a sense that to remember where you come from and what is important to you is also crucial to maintain a sense of self and the importance of continuing in a way which has the bones of familiarity to you, even if not completely the same.

I toyed with the star rating for this book until ultimately plumping for 4 stars as I did enjoy the book, was interested to know what would happen, had no difficulty reading it, and felt like, for the most part, it was very well-written with a clear sense of place and purpose. However, I did sometimes feel like some of the more dramatic scenes in the book could have had more depth considering the weight of loss that some of them would create and the impact on lives as a result.

That being said, the book is a good read – quick and easy to read with characters with whom you can identify and will to succeed, as well as an element of the spiritual and the glory of nature.

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