Synopsis: Whisper of the Woods is the sequel to Cry of the Sea, which is the first book featuring narrator Juniper Sawfeather. Fortunately, there was plenty enough in this book to get me up to speed on Juniper's adventures—all you really need to know is that she saved mermaids from an oil spill and now is known as kind of being "that girl"—which could be good or bad, depending on whether you actually believe in mythological creatures. In most cases, unfortunately for Juniper, it's bad.
Observations: The book I was matched up with for this year's MCCBD was a great pick. A paranormal/mythological fantasy with a half American Indian protagonist, it was up my alley in multiple ways. Firstly, I appreciated seeing another addition to the realm of books with mixed race main characters. Secondly, of course, you know we love us some spec fic around here.
I also am happy every time I get to read a good quality indie book. Published by Fire and Ice (an imprint of Melange Books), this was a solidly well-written fantasy with a unique premise, with my only minor complaints having to do with production/layout (for instance, I'm weirdly picky about books whose margins seem too narrow to me). I appreciated the environmental themes (again, topical!) and thought they were incorporated into the plot well, without being heavy-handed.
I am not particularly qualified to address how the depiction of American Indian culture was handled, but as far as I can tell, the author did appropriate outreach and research to address issues of ethnicity, and most importantly, all the characters of color (American Indian or otherwise—there was also "my" sort of Indian in there, too! Heh) were fully fleshed-out individuals. There weren't any "magical Indian" stereotypes to be found—which is the kind of thing I worry about in a fantasy that has mythological elements. Here, the Other isn't exoticized; rather, it's a story about real people with real concerns…and a girl who is just a bit magical, and can see the magic in the world and in her own culture(s).
Conclusion: I'm glad I got the opportunity to read this book. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to fans of mythological fantasy—Charles de Lint readers would enjoy it, I think.
I received my copy of this book courtesy of the author/publisher. You can find WHISPER OF THE WOODS by D.G. Driver at an online e-tailer, or at a real life, independent bookstore near you!
Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017 (1/27/17) is its fourth year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness on the ongoing need to include kid’s books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.