Saturday, September 29, 2012

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥: Keowee Valley by Katherine Scott Crawford

Release Date: September 27th, 2012
Publisher: Bell Bridge Books 
Page Count: 348
Source: Complimentary ARC provided directly by author, in exchange for an honest and unbiased review

On the edge of the wilderness, her adventure began.

She journeyed into the wilderness to find a kidnapped relative. She stayed to build a new life filled with adventure, danger, and passion.

Spring, 1768. The Southern frontier is a treacherous wilderness inhabited by the powerful Cherokee people. In Charlestown, South Carolina, twenty-five-year-old Quincy MacFadden receives news from beyond the grave: her cousin, a man she’d believed long dead, is alive—held captive by the Shawnee Indians. Unmarried, bookish, and plagued by visions of the future, Quinn is a woman out of place... and this is the opportunity for which she’s been longing.

Determined to save two lives, her cousin’s and her own, Quinn travels the rugged Cherokee Path into the South Carolina Blue Ridge. But in order to rescue her cousin, Quinn must trust an enigmatic half-Cherokee tracker whose loyalties may lie elsewhere. As translator to the British army, Jack Wolf walks a perilous line between a King he hates and a homeland he loves.

When Jack is ordered to negotiate for Indian loyalty in the Revolution to come, the pair must decide: obey the Crown, or commit treason...
What Stephanie Thinks: Katherine Scott Crawford's debut novel is a lush, vibrant glimpse of the budding Revolutionary War-era America, as well as an impassioned, glittering combination of adventure, romance, and suspense. The story begins with our lovely heroine, Quincy MacFadden, confessing to having been plagued with strange visions, of which she is positive are omens. She's a rebel at heart, raised to be free and to be only herself, so she knows she has to peruse her intuition, especially because she's got a niggling hunch that her mission will lead her to her missing cousin, Owen.

That's only the beginning of the long, momentous, tumultuous journey that is Keowee Valley. Heart-pounding encounters with the Cherokee Native Americans, a star-crossed romance, more visions, and the threat of Redcoats loom in her time to come. While I did find the story to drag on at times (I felt there was just too much. I didn't have trouble getting through it, but there seemed to be an infinite number of pages), it certainly doesn't lack action. 

Crawford's style is absolutely exquisite; her landscape descriptions brim with glittering detail and her emotions are captured beautifully on the pages. It's told in first-person too, which is rare for a historical novel, but all-the-more personal and vivid. Normally with historical fiction, I get bored with with all the material details, but that wasn't the case with this one. I think it had just the right amount of historical content. Rather, like I mentioned, the narrative tends to drag on a bit—overly-detailed in some places and too vague in others!—but it flows perfectly and has been penned with much care, I can tell.

In terms of historical accuracy, it's clear Keowee Valley is well-researched, and better yet, well-depicted through Quincy's likable, earnest perspective. I'm not so sure about contextual accuracy, though; much of the dialogue and situational conflicts seem too casual, too 'contemporary', too slangy. Obviously, as a reader, this is favorable because it makes the book easier to read, but for some reason, I felt like I was just reading a fancier version of a Harlequin penny novel because of its shortfall in literary substance.

Oh, and one of my favorite parts... the romance! How could I forget? Jack Wolf is a fiercely charming hero, 100% male, 100% hot. Swoon! His and Quincy's interactions are steamy, realistic, and perfectly improper; historical romance at its finest. I love how Keowee Valley doesn't only focus on the romance, though. It contains much more, including sentiments on basic instinct, cultural respect, travel, and mutual understanding, that are applicable in both Quincy's world and in ours. Keowee Valley is a truly universal debut that chronicles, dazzles, and provokes. I look forward to more from this author!

Stephanie Loves: "'There's something powerful between us, and it frightens me, because I feel I might lose my soul to it, and to you, if I'm not careful. But then I know that you hold me with you, and that if we burn, lass, we burn together.'"

Radical Rating: 7 hearts: Not without flaws, but overall enjoyable. ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥