Plot: A clever and fast-paced plot propels readers through this story. Readers will feel like they have been dropped in the middle of the action as the Pueblo people navigate everything from raids to harsh winters.
Prose/Style: Maynard's prose is lively and descriptive, and readers will feel they are right there next to Soyala as the Puebloan people undergo these adventures and events.
Originality: Readers will enjoy this refreshing and heartfelt story about the Pueblo people that feels new and innovative and shines a spotlight on a fresh subject that has been around for centuries.
Character Development: Soyala is a bold and distinct character who acts a grounding and centering force throughout the course of the novel. Her relationships with her fellow Puebloans are moving and beautiful, and Soyala's generosity is no doubt the heart of the novel.
Date Submitted: August 31, 2020
I have nothing but praise for this. It’s a magnificent story, brilliantly imagined and skillfully executed on every level. I was completely caught up in the people and their extraordinary lives from beginning to end. From the relatively scant evidence available about the Pueblo Indians of this period in the American Southwest (mostly archeological and anthropological, I assume) you have created a vivid and convincing drama, compelling in every extraordinary detail. Your characters come sharply and engagingly to life on the page and continue to live on, at least in this reader’s mind, long after the last page. Although the story is obviously your invention, it feels incredibly authentic. It’s as if you had actually gone back in time to this place and these people and come back to the present to tell us about them and how they lived their lives.
Your story sticks in the memory because it is about the things in life that truly matter, the things that have shaped humankind’s existence for many thousands of years and continue to shape it today, beneath the elaborate and often irrelevant trappings and diversions of modern civilization: birth and death, love and hope, courage and fear, suffering and endurance. Your intimate depiction of the lives of your small clan of humans back in the middle years of the thirteenth century is both intellectually and emotionally powerful. I think you’ve written a wonderful novel.
Soyala and Hania are both marvelous creations, but all your characters are strong and skillfully depicted in physical terms and in terms of their temperaments. I see no problems or deficiencies here at all. It’s an inspired cast. Your prose is highly polished and readable.
Your narrative style is quite beguiling. It’s consistently straightforward and unpretentious, with no phony dramatics or over-the-top purple prose. But you can certainly rise to moments of genuine eloquence when the occasion calls for it. What I found especially eloquent was the way you framed the story historically. You establish your narrative very effectively in the foreword and introduction, and you end it with a moving and memorable last paragraph.
I was also greatly impressed with the inventiveness of your metaphors and analogies. Every one of them is an inspired and telling observation and stunningly appropriate to the time and place.