April 03, 2013

Picture Maker by Penina Keen Spinka

I've seen this book considered prehistoric fiction by a lot of people. And I even confused it for that at first myself. But this actually takes place somewhere around the 1300's to 1400's so it's not as far back as you would think. So while it may share some similarities with that genre, this book really shouldn't be compared to the Earth's Children Series or the Gear's prehistoric fiction.

Picture Maker is an important daughter in her tribe. Because of her tribe's equality of women, she has grown up being independent, even hunting, which is unusual for a good many of the other tribes she encounters. So when she is kidnapped, and forced to become a slave for an Algonquin man who degradingly calls her Mohawk (not her people's name for their tribe), it's a whole new world for her. But she longs for escape, and if escape is possible, there are a great many journeys in front of her.

It's hard to talk about all the characters in this book without giving too much of the plot away. The safest person to talk about, as a result, is Picture Maker herself. She's a wise woman for not having seen too many years. Even as a girl she carries herself well and makes good decisions. But she does have a lot of misfortune happen to her. It seems like she's always running up against a wall, but she never gives up. And that's what's admirable about her character. And of course not all the other characters are bad guys. She encounters good and bad everywhere she goes and that's what makes humans human. So the book was very realistic in that regard.

I kept expecting the plot to leap years at a time. But it never really did until the end. And I liked that we had the continual story of Picture Maker. Nothing was left out that way. I do have to say that her name, Picture Maker, and the significance attached to it led to a dead end. Nothing was ever really done with it. But she has an exciting tale and while parts of it are a little implausible, it was still fun to read. I do have to warn that there are several topics that could be potentially offensive to people. Cannibalism, rape, violence, and an un-popular view of Christianity are in this book. I thought everything made the story more realistic, but others may not think that way.

An interesting book and it covers a time and place that I hadn't thought much about before. I'd be interested in reading the sequel to this book.

Picture Maker
Copyright 2002
464 pages

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