*Release Day* The Spirit Keeper by K.B. Laugheed |A Ruminative Tome of Introspective Freedom

Posted Tuesday, 24 September, 2013 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

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The Spirit Keeper by K.B. Laugheed

Published By: Plume, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA), 24 September 2013
Official Author Websites Site | Twitter | Facebook
Available Formats: Softcover
Page Count: 352

Converse on Twitter: #TheSpiritKeeper

The Spirit Keeper on Book Browse
Excerpt on Penguin Group’s site

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comAcquired Book By: Book Browse First Impressions Programme: I received a complimentary ARC in exchange for my honest review on Book Browse from the publisher Plume. The Spirit Keeper was amongst the offerings for August 2013, as this book will be published 24th of September 2013. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared therein or herein.

Initially I Wanted to Read: I wanted to partake in her journey untoward becoming one man’s living vision of ‘a creature of fire and ice’ and to see if they could fulfill each other’s destinies therein. It is such a curious proposition, to be taken by force from one’s own family, and re-positioned into a life, by which, you’re in complete unfamiliar territory, amongst people who speak a different tongue than your own, and by your own wits, have to determine how to survive. I was curious by how she was going to effectively change her life and heart; and to what end she must do so! This felt to me like a piece of Magical Realism wrapped up inside a Historical Fiction, rooted into the conscience of the American Frontier! I was besotted with the plot, and needed to read it to ascertain what the story truly was about! The Spirit Keeper spoke to me, as a book I needed to read rather than merely a book I wanted to read! I listen to my intuition in other words!

Inspired to Share: The book trailer for The Spirit Keeper, keeps the atmospheric liltings of the novel fully intact! The fiery crimson hair and pure, glistening blue eyes of Katie O’ Toole are visually represented as well!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

“The Spirit Keeper” by K.B. Laugheed Book Trailer by Penguin Group (USA)

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

A brutal and savage world envelopes you as you dip into this narrative: Within the opening sequences, I was at first, rather taken aback by the imagery that was greeting me, and on reflection of the story’s arc, I shook off my fright, and realised, how else could it have been writ!? I warmed a bit to the ensuing exchanges, and limited my scope of the worst bits that would befall Katie’s family, as I am not one who endeavours to be explicitly aware of such horrific events! I was much more keen to arrive at the heart of the story, by which, I had first been curious to read! The bit about how an ordinary girl suddenly finds herself in the middle of an extraordinary journey! I will lament, that if you’re a reader who begs off for lighter faire, you might want to caution yourself, as within Chapter One, the author does not hold back on the grim realities of what it was like in the 1700s when an Indian War Party descended upon a settler’s family.

Flickerments of “Medicine Man” (the motion picture) streamed through my mind, as did “Dances with Wolves” (the motion picture), as in each story, those who only spoke English, learnt to adapt and to live amongst the natives by which they found themselves belonging too better than their own kind. I am drawn into stories that attach us to whole new cultures, traditions, religions, and walks of life. Stories that etch into our imaginations a wholly new world, where there are similarities, but otherwise, as we dip into their narratives, we find ourselves in a foreign land, attempting to understand what we cannot yet conceive possible.

Whilst in the opening chapters of her journey, with her new traveling companions, they reached a village of Native Americans, by which, upheld the custom of women’s huts. I had first learnt of this tradition awhile ago, but the memory of where and how is lost to me! More readily to depart is that the same sequence of knowledge was included in my reading of The Forest Lover, which was a selection of mine for Bout of Books, 8.0! I am still in-progress with that particular book, but what I found fascinating is the depictions of this ritual that both authors gave to their readers! I will be attaching an article about these huts, as I find it rather curious how intimate and safe they truly were for women! They achieved a heightened sense of freedom in asking questions and conversing on topics that might not otherwise have been considered kosher in their everyday lives!

An incredible journey of self-preservation, fortitude of spirit, and overwhelming grief: I was not quite prepared for the journey that Katie, Syawa, and Hector embark upon! It wasn’t so much the long distances that they must traverse through rough hewn terrain, but rather, they are each going through a personal, intimate, internal journey concurrent to their outward journey towards the men’s originating homeland! Each is carrying secrets of their own experiences, and in Katie’s instance, her life is muddled and blighted with far more devastation than anyone could ill-afford possible to a seventeen year old young lady!  Her lot in life has been tempered by abuse and misguided notions of love, unto where she has encouraged a naïve sense of the living world, and has grown an ignorance of how right a life can be lived! I grieved for her and bleed emotions with her recollections of past memories,.. memories that were nearly too hard to bare and to ruminatively lay pause upon. It is through Syawa’s gentleness and effective way of easing her out of her shell, that she truly started to see who she was and who she could be. I only wish I could pronounce Syawa’s name, as I feel as guilty she does in her own story, about the misunderstandings that evolve out of not understanding language and meaning of words, phrases, or names outside our own native tongues!

I nearly felt a bit irked with myself, when it finally dawned on me that the “Misery” mass of water they were paddling evermore against, down, and up, was surely the Mighty Mississippi! How could I not have recognised that mass of water!!? I’ve lived nigh far from it the full of my life (separated by fewer states than it takes time to cross it!), and here, I was finding myself befuddled to know by which body of water they were crossing! Oy! I should have realised it sooner, as they had originated their quest back towards home in Pennsylvania, but I was so wrapped up in the day-to-day re-tellings of her diary, that I sort of suspended all thought and reason towards understanding the locality of the setting(s)!! Except, then, I remembered in the book trailer it shows “the Missouri River”, and I am as befuddled to know which river they were traversing but whichever river they were blighted to be placed upon, it nearly reminded me of my knowledge of how heavy the trade routes were on both the Nile & the Amazon; which led to such difficult dangers and adversities therein!

I had not yet realised when I wrote these two paragraphs quite early-on in my reading, how powerful my insightful words would become! For this was a story of just what I said: an incredible journey of self-preservation, fortitude of spirit, and overwhelming grief, to where I nearly wondered, was that a precognitive murmuring of what may lay before me extending past the first quarter and a half of the novel!? Laugheed has a breadth for metaphor and symbolism, where each chapter has a twicefold purpose, as what is happening to the characters, what they have already experienced in the past, and how they perceive their present situations, all become reflective and transparent. Her wit and humour is a sly fox that sneaks up on you, and makes you chuckle down a laugh even if you’d rather spilt a few buckets of tears! She encourages you forward to see the rest of the story, and to feel as Katie feels as she first spilt the ink to relay it!

Language & Translation: the Invisible Barriers we never foresee: Laugheed paints a clear window towards our greatest struggle in accepting and understanding each other, as we present ourselves to each other in our conversations! Each inflection of tone, voice, and the words we use to explain ourselves, can lead us down a path of misunderstanding and of misalignment in what we are attempting to represent as our thoughts, hopes, dreams, and passions. Throughout the story, we are seeing the story as a first-hand account of a diary the protagonist is writing to assert her own history back in her life, as she’s amongst those who do not understand the necessity of having a living history or a story to be told of one’s heritage. She values her experiences, her struggles of faith, and the lessons she is ought being taught as she walks forward into her future. She hasn’t had the easiest of lives, but she isn’t going to allow herself to wallow in the situations she could never effectively change, but rather, pull out a strength deep from within her, to carry her through the tribulations that she was certain were still to come.

Whilst she’s (Katie O’ Toole) recounting her days in her diary, I mused about how this differed from the diary of Robinson Crusoe as it contained more of her essence, her internal quagmire of thoughts, and the irrevocable distraught by which she plagued herself with for most of her arduous journey towards Syawa and Hector’s homeland. From the moment I read the opening page, by which the author departed a precognitive knowledge of how the story might transform as you read the words, I was left with a museful pre-occupation of how that would transpire, and further still, of one particular scene that I had presumed was forgotten within the re-writes and draughts, leading up to publication! However, this falls perfectly into this category of observation about ‘language and translation’, about how what we first perceive to be just and truth, can altogether change and alter, either by the different perception we’ve learnt through experience OR through reading a book that is quite unlike another! This book truly lives up to the proportions of what Laugheed mentions at the start gate: the words transcend their own meaning as you etch closer to the ending, the whole of the story is much larger than the sum of the parts as they are revealed!

In this way,  she is giving each of us to turn on our heels, the gross misconception of how we drink in words, knowledge, and observational data. The reader is very much at the heart of this story, and I think, is as central as Katie’s voice in re-telling her own history. What is humbling too, is how as our knowledge expands, the words that were once lost on us, as being completely irreverent suddenly take on new meanings, as they now evoke an ’emotion’, a ‘resolution’, or a ‘truth’ we did not understand previously. An Irish girl cast out into the wilderness of the wild frontier, with two Indian’s as her sole guides and protectors, makes for a curious precept initially, but it’s how they interact with each other, during the everyday hours, that Laugheed excels in not disappointing her reader! She never makes their interactions dull or predictable, because she has woven their personalities into the core of how they interact with each other! You pick up little character traits that come to play a larger part of the story as it threads through its climax, but inside these key portals of frontier life in campsites and canoes, you start to see how its possible to thread a new life together out of the ashes of the old! In this way, I was quietly savouring each exchange between the threesome, curious how they would come to depend on each other, and how they would draw strength by each others’ presence.

Language provided a barrier in the beginning, but as most barriers end up being destroyed by own instincts to right our sails, Syawa, Katie, and Hector sort out what is truly more important in life. And, it’s not an easy question to answer, nor is it a resolution to take lightly. Laugheed interweaves spirituality, faith, classical literature, theatrical story-telling, native customs and traditions, as well as cookery differences into the main stage of where we see these characters evolve. It begs the question, how much do we say by spoken voice, how much do we say by gestures / mannerisms, in which give away our innermost thoughts and feelings!? How many of us understand the true language of man!?

The Review I Posted on Book Browse:

The inertia of reality that besots you as soon as you enter into the world of The Spirit Keeper, is quite a hard bullet to bite, because before you can wrap your eyes and heart around what your visually aware of, your niched into the story! I credit this to the author, as Laugheed endeavours you to jump straight out of your comfort zone, wholly free-falling into a brutal, raw, and untamed section of the American Frontier in the mid-1700s and take a quest towards unraveling the complexities of building a new life in a foreign land. The thematics that are entrenched in the story parlay an exposition on language, translation, and sense of being. She readily elevates our awareness that our words can draw an impact that is not always aware to us, but like the life paths we are walking, we are not always in charge of their meaning or purpose of use.

The beauty of the outside world envelopes you from the jump-start, as the open wilderness is the footing for setting this story outside the reach of our known world. Even for those of us who are akin to the natural environment and the inhabitants therein, there is still so much of that world that is readily just outside our scope, outside our understanding. The Native Americans who are on the forefront of the story, evoke a cultural education into accepting stark differences of living, as much as embracing traditions that hold merit  (such as the menstrual huts for women).

The art of story-telling plays a center part of The Spirit Keeper’s heart, but it’s the transformative power of understanding the words that are imparted throughout the story, that turn everything into a new light once the conclusion arrives. What the reader first mistook as a course of events, was truly a resounding precognitive journey that guided two characters forward into a future they would not have been strong enough to embrace otherwise. It’s the redemptive nature of grasping a hold of the essence of those who pass forward and away from our living world that is truly the most remarkable arc of the story! For we all have the ability to be a keeper of a spirit whose touched us deeply and left us remorseful for their presence! We only need the strength to transcend our perception and view our experiences from a different angle to see how the threads stitch together the pattern of our living tapestry!

My own discerning discomfort was having this novel end on a cliffhanger, which nearly wrecked my enjoyment of the reading! I felt short-changed and disappointed, as I had embarked on this journey with the wholeness of my heart and as fearful as I was with the brutality of certain imagery, I was holding onto the Hope of what was yet to come and what I hoped would be! Prior to turning in my review, I wanted to visit the author’s website to see if I could unearth a bit more of the story; whereupon I was given the Hope I sought, and my spirit smiled, knowing all was for naught!

 

{*NOTE: This is by far the longest review I have turned in for a First Impressions novel, as my word count is quite past the height of what we’re allowed, as it stands at 524! At max, we’re not meant to pass 400! I am sure that this review might have to be scaled back, but I struggled with what to include or exclude! Its one of those novels that compels me to speak about it, and to limit the words I use to render that purpose is a difficult task to undertake! UPDATE: The review was left fully intact!}

Fly in the Ointment: As I allowed the story of The Spirit Keeper wash over and through me, as it’s the kind of book that once you put it down, it draws you into an introspective phase of turning over its pages and the insights that had spilt out whilst it was read. Your mind fervently goes back through each of the milestones the character encountered, and each curious subtle notions of an enlightened spirit that was etched into the narrative and served as a guiding light towards Katie and Hector on their extended journey. Part of me felt betrayed in some ways, because as you drink into the prose, which wasn’t easy for me to do at first, as foresaid, the brutality of the reality that frontiersmen and women faced during this part of the mid-1700s, was both raw and bloody in its depth! I never painted the plight of the early settlers and the Indian tribes they encountered in a glossed over rose tint of a glass, but at the very same time, I never fully allowed my mind and heart to fully encompass the harshness of the totality of their conjoined reality! In this way, I was a bit taken aback by some of the descriptions, as it’s not for the reader of a faint heart, nor sensitive stomach! There are depictions of massacre and cold-blooded homicide in its purist of natures. Yet. As disturbing as this was to see revealed, this isn’t what irked my ire!! No! What boiled my blood in many ways, was where the story drops off in the ending chapters, without an Epilogue or Author’s Note, or any such explanation of “what could be next” or “what could be on the horizon”. Nothing. Your left abandoned and decidedly alone in that last rendering chapter, that does not quite eclipse the whole of the quest you undertook from the beginning! Your merely at the start, not the finish!

I never knew quite how I felt about cliffhanger endings, until recently, when I noticed that writing a début novel is turning into a trend of becoming “the cliffhanger” ballad! I experienced this anguish whilst reading The Golem and the Jinni, whose characters I rallied for, cried after, and cheered to see merge into calmer waters, yet I was left with this wanton hope of “what will come next?” as there wasn’t a clear answer nor guide to that end! I felt this intense anguish and unsettling mire as I touched and turned the last pages of The Spirit Keeper! I know, I will be recommending this book just as highly as I do Wecker’s, but ooh, how I wish there could have been a gateway of knowing that this wasn’t the end of Katie’s and Hector’s story! I hadn’t suspected this to end up as a romantic drama, but that is exactly what unfolded and given the circumstances that they encounter, its one of those dramas you want to see through til completion and not be forced into an intermission!!

An environmental conscience: Is cleverly hidden within the context of the story, but is one of the inclusions that I found to be the most illuminating to see!! I oft have found myself the most happiest amongst the trees, rivers, lakes, streams, and out-of-door hideaways that only a person can walk to find! Nature’s door is ever beckoning us to re-enter that sacred space between the natural world and the world by which we live as men. We are drawn towards nature as keenly as we are attached to water as a source of lifeblood, but it isn’t always an easy attachment to maintain, when the hectic nature of our lifestyles can circumvent our efforts to keep our hearts and souls aligned with the seasons and timescape of the natural world just past our windows! Laugheed draws a breath of vitality into the forest, where you can nearly hear the echoings of the trees, the rushing power of the rivers, and the harmonious tickings of the inhabitants therein. I appreciated that the animals that were killed in the book were used for what they could give back to the ones who fell them. I always respected this aspect of Native American beliefs, as they take what they need and only what they can use, at the time they go hunting. It’s a beautiful circle of life, as nothing is wasted and everything is respected. She wants you to see the beauty past what you expect to find whilst out in the deep woods, as the forest plays a fourth character or rather, that of a narrator that has not yet found its voice.

The story evoked a sense of longing to know the next chapter: I am whole-heartedly curious about the next installment of this {potential} series! I have difficulty in wrapping my mind around that this could be the conclusion rather than the beginning! I feel very attached to Ka-loo-ti and Hector!! I want to know more of their story, as I am hunger for more of their interactions! I love how Katie started this story as a hard-edged warrior of seventeen and had softened into a maternal and loving eighteen year old, whose grace of maturity softened the stoic exterior of Hector! I yearn to see, no, read more of their continuing tales, and to embrace the conclusion of their quest! I began this book in daylight hours, and nearly fell asleep attempting to read past the midnight oils already fully burnt and flickering! As I turnt the last of the pages, I knew, sickeningly that the end was going to arrive too promptly, too quickly, and I would be left with a bittersweet taste in my mouth! Oh, how I dared to hope that this wasn’t going to end without further knowledge of what came next, and to have been given a kernal of a seed of what might be, simply because I was hoping to ascertain which river is in the book, warmed my heart to no end!

The words and the spellings of them, felt to me as natural and as acceptable as I had found watching Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, whereupon in the end, I daresay thought Chow Yun-Fat, Michelle Yeoh, and Ziyi Zhang had suddenly switched from speaking Mandarin to English! I did not even notice the language as a barrier, as I was so fully emotionally connected to the film as it unfolded, that their language and mine became entwined with each other! I did not even realise I was still ‘reading’ the words, as I felt as though I was ‘hearing’ them instead! Such was my reaction to The Spirit Keeper‘s unique flavourings of syntax and subtext! In both instances, my awareness was heightened tenfold! As my immersion into their living worlds was complete and total!

If you enjoyed my recollections of The Spirit Keeper,
you might be further interested in reading the rest of the First Impressions reviews!

And, if you do want a bit of Hope ahead of your reading, do read this blog post by the author! I found the eve of concluding this post, and it warmed my heart to the core! I had wandered back to her blog to find out more of the story, as I was betwixt how I felt about the conclusion, as you will have read above. Reading her note changed the perspective of how I felt about the book as a whole, because without the Hope of what she had writ about, I am not sure, if this story would have felt as sweet to have read!

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This book review is courtesy of:

First Impressions badge created by Jorie in Canva.Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

I decided to include this for:

That Friday Blog Hop

as I haven’t stopped thinking about the story!

The Spirit Keeper
by K.B. Laugheed
Source: Publisher via Book Browse's First Impressions Programme

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Also by this author: The Gift of the Seer

Also in this series: The Gift of the Seer


Genres: Feminist Historical Fiction, Genre-bender, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Literary Fiction, Magical Realism, Native American Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Spirituality & Metaphysics, Women's Studies


Published by Plume

on 24th September, 2013

Pages: 352

{SOURCES: The book trailer by Penguin Group (USA) had either URL share links or coding which made it possible to embed this media portal to this post, and I thank them for the opportunity to share more about this novel and the author who penned it. “That Friday Blog Hop” badge was provided by XOXO Rebecca! Book Review badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. First Impressions badge created by Jorie in Canva.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2013.

Related Articles:

Interview with K.B. Laugheed, author of The Spirit Keeper, 20 September 2013– (qwillery.blogspot.com)

Menstrual Rites of the Native Americans – (cycleharmony.com)

Review for The Spirit Keeper:  A Novel by K.B. Laugheed – (bookhostage.wordpress.com)

The Spirit Keeper by K.B. Laugheed – (lysistratical.blogspot.com)

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Tuesday, 24 September, 2013 by jorielov in 18th Century, Book Browse, Book Trailer, Debut Novel, Diary Accountment of Life, Early Colonial America, Environmental Conscience, Equality In Literature, First Impressions, Fly in the Ointment, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Native American Fiction, Premonition-Precognitive Visions, That Friday Blog Hop, The American Frontier




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