by Kathleen O’Neal Gear and Michael Gear; Forge Books, 2011; 340 pages; $25.99
The Dawn Country is the second in a series about 15th century Iroquoians. It’s a well-written novel about North America’s ancient history, carved out by a husband-and-wife team of anthropologists, Kathleen O’Neal Gear and Michael Gear.
In The Dawn Country War Chief Koracoo’s encampment has been attacked, the children have been taken and the rest of the tribe murdered by Gannajero, a child kidnapper who markets in human trafficking. Koracoo and her ex-husband Gondo go on the hunt for Gannajero, but in a twist of mistaken identity, they find themselves hunted by other tribesmen, whose children have also been kidnapped.
Once the confusion is cleared up, Koracoo convinces the other tribesmen to join her and Gondo, and the group begins to take on a new dimension of enemy-helping-enemy for the greater good. As they travel together, their small band begins to find some of the children who have managed to escape Gannajero’s clutches. These children are as resilient as the adults as they travel hard and fast through the winter’s snow. They have more reasons to hate their captor as they watch her sell off young girls into prostitution, and the boys shoveled off to those who need dispensable slaves for work.
The book showcases a host of long-lost paranormal rituals and beliefs from the various tribes involved. Beautifully constructed, The Dawn Country leaves no stone unturned.
As anthropologists, the Gears have the polish and knowledge to pull readers into the story and keep them there until the story is over. They weave a history lesson into the words of an intriguing novel. The Dawn Country is not a mystery book; it is a mysterious journey.
Charlene Harris is a freelance writer in Anniston.