Cetas deftly blends real-life figures with imagined characters to bring this early colonial era alive, especially with regard to Native American beliefs, customs, and real-world politics. The Natives who attacked the fort are rivals of the Lanape and Mohawk tribes, both of whom prefer to trade with the colonists. However, many settlers regard all of the Natives as less than human, especially since a number of women and children were taken prisoner by the rival Esopus tribe. Amid this conflict and context, Cetas explores cross-cultural connections: after Etienne tracks down his friends, he tells the Lenape tribe's sachem (chief) about the attacks, and the sachem (who is also Alsoomse and Kitchi's father) hatches a plan to rescue some of the Dutch and establish an alliance against the Esopus.
In the course of an exciting story, Etienne is questioned by the Dutch, captured by the Esopus, and rescues a baby in peril, all as he and his friends appreciably mature in the face of conflict, working together to try to bring a vicious English settler to justice. A long denouement feels like an extended set-up for the next entry, but readers interested in 17th-century encounters between Dutch settlers and Native American tribes will find a narrative that's exciting, harrowing, and respectful to the tribes and their beliefs.
Takeaway: Compelling, respectful novel of 17th century Native Americans and Dutch settlers.
Comparable Titles: Susan Cooper’s Ghost Hawk, Patricia Clark Smith’s Weetamoo.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A