Blog Book Tour | “Blood Moon: A Captive’s Tale” by Ruth Hull Chatlien The sophomore release by one of my favourite Biological Historical Fiction authors!

Posted Thursday, 31 August, 2017 by jorielov , , 1 Comment

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Acquired Book By: I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours whereupon I am thankful to have been able to host such a diverse breadth of stories, authors and wonderful guest features since I became a hostess! I received a complimentary copy of “Blood Moon: A Captive’s Tale” direct from the author Ruth Hull Chatlien in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

What drew me eye into wanting to read this novel:

I had the joy of finding this author when her debut novel was released – whilst participating on a blog tour to celebrate Madame Boneparte! I was struck by the beauty of her narrative and the insightfulness of her approach in telling the story through Betsy’s perspective! As you can see through this quotation of my review, she truly has a gift for breathing to life ‘Biological Historical Fiction’:

Ms. Chatlien is one prime example of an eloquent wordsmith who is a decidedly passionate researcher of her book’s subject, setting, and tone! She is one of the writers I am thankful to uncover for her guiding hand with witticism and cunning turns of phrase which bolster the novel’s setting within the era in which the story exists. The elaborate and delicate attentions to details, to endue the genteel society’s preferences of colours, textiles, and surroundings allows your mind to sink into the artistry of the story’s set decorations as much as the words of the author’s palette. I am always championing the writers who take such a decisive hand to interweave such realism into their historical fiction novels which impart a duality of purpose: a slice of a historical antidote set to life in fiction and the intimate portrait of a living historical person lit inside a biographical fiction. Appreciators of stories like these will find a balm in the wind whilst making sure their settled into a comfy chair to whittle away the hours enraptured in a time portal back into the 1700s!

The intrigue of the politics of both America on the footheels of Revolution and of France, caught up in a new regime of power struggling to keep itself afloat left me in the full grip of Chatlien’s ability to tone down the complexity and examine the era from both sides of the Atlantic! The intricacies threaded through their lives became thwarted and entangled at each turn due to Jerome’s connection to Napoleon, who very much was attempting to control his brother’s life at such a distance as France. As they made a determined effort to restore themselves to France, the intrigue of the harrowing journey Betsy would take to reach French soil was beyond riveting as it was etched in danger at each turn. Including whilst trying to protect her unbourne babe for whom had not yet had the pleasure of meeting his father who was kept separate from them. Her tumultuous return to the States gave me a window of what lengths war and insurrection can separate those who are caught up in the actions of others.

I could only imagine what was rollicking through Betsy’s mind and heart whilst she was being tested against will to re-acquire her beloved’s presence. I am thankful to have this particular biographical fiction cross my path, because it has inspired me to seek out more historical novels set around the Bonaparte’s. For every imagined truth we all perceive about those who lived in the historical past, there is oft-times a hidden story surrounding the very people who might have repelled our interest. I oft wondered about the lives interconnected to Napoleon, the unsung voices of his reign, and through Becoming Josephine and The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte I am embarking towards that end; of unveiling the incredible women who not only backed their men but forged through all the doubts of their eras to secure their futures. And, for this I thank the authors who are giving their readers quite a heap to ruminate on!

-quoted from my review of The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte

It is interesting how life ebbs and flows; over the years, I have wondered if the writer I loved so much from Madame Boneparte might have attached her pen and muse to another woman’s story and/or if she had taken up a new direction in her Historical wanderings. I have oft-times meant to follow-up with all the lovely beloved authors I’ve blogged about here on Jorie Loves A Story, but the project keeps getting pushed forward. It is often when I see a story go on a blog tour, I might first get clued into forthcoming titles by the authors I love to read and/or I might stumble across their newsbits via the twitterverse or browsing bookish sites or a book shoppe!

Part of my journey into my 5th Year (in 2018) will be re-exploring where the writers are now in their writerly paths and the books they might have published since I first ‘met’ them either through their debut release or one of their other titles. The joy for me was not only finding out Ms Chatlien had a new story being published this past June but in realising there was a space left on the blog tour celebrating it’s publication! I truly smiled after I had ‘made’ the tour – she is one author I’ve hoped would keep finding her muse to bring forward the living persons of whom History has a way of either marginalising or leaving behind tucked into the hidden corridors of historical archive where their voices are left unknown. Through her efforts and other Historical authors like Ms Chatlien who write captivating and emotionally convicting Biographical Historical Fiction, I get to re-examine the past through fresh eyes and the emotional introspection these characters bring to their stories.

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Notation on Cover Art: One of the most striking cover art designs I’ve seen in Historical Fiction is this one for ‘Blood Moon’. Not only does the imagery have ‘flight of motion and depth of emotion’ it is simply an incredible capture of ‘one moment’ of Sarah’s life – and of the dire situation she was encapsulated inside for those terrifying weeks where the world was upturnt. I loved how evocative the palette of colours adds to the dimension of the ‘scene’ – all in, it’s wicked good!

Blog Book Tour | “Blood Moon: A Captive’s Tale” by Ruth Hull Chatlien The sophomore release by one of my favourite Biological Historical Fiction authors!Blood Moon
Subtitle: A Captive's Tale
by Ruth Hull Chatlien
Source: Author via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Southern Minnesota, August 1862. Smoke fills the horizon and blood soaks the prairie as the Sioux fight to drive white settlers from their ancestral homeland. Sarah Wakefield and her young son and baby daughter are fleeing for their lives when two warriors capture them. One is Hapa, who intends to murder them. The other is Chaska, an old acquaintance who promises to protect the family. Chaska shelters them in his mother’s tepee, but with emotions running so high among both Indians and whites, the danger only intensifies. As she struggles to protect herself and those she loves, Sarah is forced to choose between doing what others expect of her and following her own deep beliefs.

Places to find the book:

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ISBN: 9781937484460

Also by this author: The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte, Author Interview: Ruth Hull Chatlien

Genres: Biographical Fiction, Historical Fiction


Published by Amika Press

on 14th June, 2017

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 412

Published By: Amika Press | @AmikaPress

Converse via: #HistFic, #HistoricalFiction + #BioFic & #BloodMoon

About Ruth Hull Chatlien

Ruth Hull Chatlien

Ruth Hull Chatlien has been a writer and editor of educational materials for nearly thirty years, specializing in U.S. and world history. She is the author of Modern American Indian Leaders for middle-grade readers. Her award-winning first novel, The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte, portrays the tumultuous life of Elizabeth “Betsy” Patterson Bonaparte. Her latest novel, Blood Moon: A Captive’s Tale was published in June 2017.

She lives in northeastern Illinois with her husband, Michael, and a very pampered dog named Smokey. When she’s not writing, she can usually be found gardening, knitting, drawing, painting, or watching football.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comabout sarah:

Sarah is not afraid to share the realities of her marriage, her duties as a mother or her life on the prairies of Minnesota where tensions between the settlers and the Sioux are quite strenuous due to how the Sioux felt they were being cheated out of what they were due (in regards to payment) which put Sarah and her young family at risk. She has a calming sense of center in her spirit – she might have lurches of anxiety and the fears which assault anyone who was living in such a precarious time of ‘peace’ but she finds her will to stay on target with her duties and it’s how she puts her worries into her work which I think helped her the most.

Sarah was such a tall woman – six feet! I had to smile reading about her height, as the way in which she carried herself, you wouldn’t have guessed her height! In some ways, as we first get to know Sarah she doesn’t seem to have a lot of confidence in herself which I think is attributed to how she grew up and how she feels indifferent to those who have more education or had more opportunities to do more with their lives than she was allowed. Despite her insecurities – what is quite incredible is what she is able to accomplish, despite her fears and the obstacles soon to be standing in her path.

She is well informed about the plight of the Sioux – how their lost payment is impending their right to provide for their people. How the scarcity of food is causing many of the Sioux to worry about the fast approach of Winter and how, if she had her druthers she’d rather find a way where her and other settlers could contribute to the food shortage of the Sioux. As hunger is such a horrible plight to face – then or now, so many rely on food banks or the kindness of their neighbours to lend a hand when someone is in need. I could truly feel the angst murmuring in Sarah’s heart as she was aware of her own family’s hoard for Winter whilst having to accept she could not offer assistance to the Sioux.

My review of blood moon: a captive’s tale:

As soon as the story begins, we are immediately able to step into Sarah’s heart, mind and soul – as Ms Chatlien has found such a strong entrance into her thoughts as she tries to transition through motherly care for her daughter and the alarming observation of a ‘blood moon’. The moon itself she feels is such a powerful harbinger of ‘something’ profound yet unknown – her husband disagrees and quite horridly, lashes out a her for being ignorant of science. His harsh backlash and his mannerisms do not sway me to liking him – even if he’s quite historically accurate for how some men treated their wives, it’s still hard to see a woman who is strong in her own spirit take a verbal lashing for wanting to share the alarm she felt as soon as she saw the moon! It’s not superstitious either – there are signs in life, and if Sarah felt she was being given one – it would speak to her foreshadowing of events about to unfold involving her and the Dakotas*.

Mind you, I wish she had had a kinder husband – he is quite gruff, lots of bark but blessedly little bite! He just doesn’t know how to redirect his anger at situations which arise out of his occupation as a doctor – a job which he enjoys, but starts to question if he’s put himself and his family into a situation they might not get out of alive. I have read quite a few settler stories in my life, each of them approaching the tensions between the Indians and townespeople differently but on thread remains the same: peace is not often commonplace nor lasting.

Eggs were one of the best things a wife could keep on their homestead, as hens were good about laying with frequency which aide purchases in town for essentials or even a few luxuries. This is one reason why have a spot of land to farm (ie. veg, fruit, herb, etc) whilst having a few animals which could yield an income of their own (ie. chickens, goats, cattle, etc) allows a family to find self-sufficiency even during generations of economic hardship on a national level as the land provides for the needs of those who tend it.

Her mind and heart are turning over her feelings about what is happening around her – nothing is confirmed but there are too many Sioux on horseback and constantly having a presence near her farmhouse to draw attention on how ‘something’ is shifting in the wind. Sarah reveals one of her pleasures of joy is visiting with the Sioux women, smoking and conversing with them in the pieces of the Dakota language she’s picked up whilst she was openly received in neighbourly friendship. It speaks to how barriers can be removed and how people can relate to each other when they genuine accept each others’ differences and find common ground. I felt bad for Sarah in so many regards – she was having to live against her better judgements – where she’d prefer to reach out to the Sioux with food and friendship but to risk this compassionate outreach was greater than she was willing to sacrifice (as it would affect her children and husband) if anything went wrong.

Against the backdrop of the coming conflict with the Sioux, is Sarah’s observations in how her husband John has slowly changed from the man she first met and married. It’s hard when you find someone you love has radically altered their personality and their kind-hearted ways since you took your vows; almost as if a stranger has moved in with you and you do not know how to adjust to their caustic ways. Sarah is at a cross-roads of understanding what has caused her husband’s severe switch in both mood and personality – as without knowing what is truly weighing on his mind, it’s difficult to pin down when he first started to change into the man he is now. Changes like these can be subtle over time; where wives would not have the ready knowledge ‘something’ was amiss with their spouse until like Sarah was soon finding, it was too late to circumvent; the changes were set into her life whether she was prepared for them or not.

When Sarah and her children are displaced due to pending hostilities and are taken in by the Humphreys she starts to observe how blessed she is with John and how, despite his quirks of changing behaviours – she is still better off than Susan, whose husband would prefer all children to be silent and wives to be dismissive. It is here, in this new household Sarah tries to sort through her feelings and figure out a way to make John happy again with her company; if that is even possible. Here is starts to pick up the slack for Susan – tending to the household needs whilst Susan deals with a pregnancy which puts her into uncharted territory (for the issues it is arising). Women had to be stronger than ever back then – pregnancy was a true walk of faith as medical knowledge and understanding of birth was truly in it’s infancy stages. Midwives saved a lot of lives but it’s the challenges doctors, nurses and midwives were inexperienced about during times of complications. You could feel the worry of concern Sarah had for Susan but keeping busy was one way she was able to find a way to put a pause on those thoughts and do her bit to contribute something back to Susan’s household. When your independent and proud, like Sarah is – you don’t want to sit and suddenly do nothing when your hands and feet could be put to work.

Sarah is a God-fearing woman – taking her faith seriously at all times, turning to prayer and seeking solitude to understand the harder issues of the day. Through these introspective musings we see Sarah twisting over the hardest aspects of faith, where not everything is understood as it is lived nor can all problems have a ready resolution. Her faith is tested quite often but she turns inward to seek understanding and mercy or grace for her own transgressions where she fears she has erred on the wrong side of her beliefs.

On the road, Sarah is clued into what is unfolding before the man who is driving the wagon – her insight and the sign she took from the blood moon all those nights before were preparing her for what is about to change her world. Her children are taken captive with her where she quickly is given advice to ‘do as the Sioux’ rather than to try to hold onto her settler ways. I think this was a keen bit of advice but for her to have the strength to adopt their way of life in the face of such arduous adversity – being separated from her husband, without the knowledge of how many have died and how many are alive – not only took inner strength but a great deal of belief in oneself to find a way, however difficult at first to forge a future out of an uncertain present.

She meets one Sioux she can relate too, as she has known him in the past (Chaska) along with Sioux women who also remember her through the good works of her husband (doctoring the wounded) which gives her fragile hope she might survive. It is the others who are taken and are being held which she fears might not make it as they have succumbed to shock and are not as strong in pushing past fear to find survival. Everyone relates to trauma and tragedy differently; some can push through and others like the women Sarah was finding become locked into a pattern of shattered resolve.

There is one critical moment (well, several truly!) where Sarah can see herself dressed in Native clothes (in the beginning of her captivity) and she contemplates where is the line which she has now crossed where her past has dissolved and this new reality in the present has sacrificed something she hadn’t realised could be lost in a conflict such as this? How does one reconcile the loss of one’s spirit and self-identity? Her mind is catching up with the emotional strain being taken has caused her – not to mention the horrors she had witnessed (though less severe than the German lady in camp). You can tell she’s set her mind to survive, but you still have your thoughts to work through – your conscience and unconscious state refuse to simply ‘carry on’ without questioning how you ‘carry on’ if parts of you are disappearing.

There are moments of Sarah’s ordeal which emotionally connect to you as you feel as if your reliving everything she went through as it happened. Especially the constant threats against her life as not everyone is as accepting as Chaska to be willing to shield her from those who wish to end her life. She tries to pull the strength together as fragile as it feels inside to give her children a reason to not only live but to remember who they are if they are to survive her afterwards. The hardest part is trying to explain everything to her young son in a way in which he will understand the bigger picture and not only focus on ‘what is at hand’. Sarah is pushed past despair and only sees how she can focus on living through on moment at a time; she cannot think too far afield anymore; nothing is certain, not even the hours between meals.

Even as Sarah is struggling to get through each new dawn and each new crisis she wakes to find alighting on her path, she is finding humbling grace meeting her in unexpected moments where some of the Sioux do not align their thoughts with those who are seeking to resolve this conflict through violence. She finds Chaska’s mother a kind-hearted soul who not only understands the difficulties of blending into Sioux culture but of how conflicted Sarah is about needing to blend in to survive another day. There are always those who seek to help in moments of great tragedy – even during conflict and war, where she could be killed simply because she was not Sioux – there were helpers guiding her and protecting her as best they could.

What is truly gutting about the whole story is how everything could have been avoided if the Sioux had been given the funds they were owed. They were slowly starting to starve due to lack of food and provisions; the recent droughts had taken their crops and they were unable to provide for their community of families and warriors. The anguish they must have felt realising the food would not keep them safe through Winter; of how cruel a fate it would be to die one by one simply because they did not have food to sustain themselves. Hunger is a cruel mistress – it is easily resolved but it is not a simple issue to erase from repeating. Even in today’s world, there are families and communities who struggle to sustain themselves through each changing season. Food insecurity is an ongoing battle and one which can be eased if those who have a surplus of supplies will donate a portion of their provisions to help those who fall short in keeping their pantry supplied. There are a lot of overtures between ‘then and now’; not just on this one issue alone but on the tensions between us and the Native tribes who are still fighting for their rights to be upheld and not dismissed out of hand. I am unsure if I will ever understand why their rights are constantly being taken – they deserve full equality and acceptance but I wonder what it will take for them to see kindness and compassion rather than hate and intolerance? We have such a long road to walk still.

*I admit, I hadn’t realised the Chippewa had changed their name until earlier this year when I was doing a bit of research of my own into Native American tribes. Somehow, I hadn’t come across the name switch from Sioux to Dakota and I was thankful this ARC had the Author’s Note and the map of 19th Century Minnesota included to help align me into the story. Similar to Ms Chatlien, I yielded to the original names of the Native Americans in the story for referencing for both the era of Sarah’s life and the flow of the narrative in Blood Moon.

on the biographical historical styling of ms chatlien:

I grew up in a family who had a fond appreciation for Native American culture, tradition and religion – which is why I oft find myself drawn into narratives which feature Native American stories threading through History. This isn’t my first captive’s tale to read – as the one which spoke to me quite a lot in the recent past was The Spirit Keeper by L.B. Laugheed (see also Review). Finding Ms Chatlien had found her own muse and inspiration to step into the shoes of a living person who not only lived a captive’s tale but had left behind documents which explained her experiences is quite incredible! I love how this story felt (prior to reading it) to be nearly biographical – rather than fictional – due to the extent of Ms Chatlien’s research and her willingness to step out of her life and into Sarah’s!

I truly loved how Ms Chatlien approached giving us a way into Sarah’s life – she took a very direct route, dropping us into Sarah’s life on the very fringe of the uprising, where things start to happen quite quickly. There were little nudges of insight of how Sarah’s view of the Sioux differed from her neighbours and her husband John whilst there were still personal impressions which Sarah was contemplating might not fit in step with her walk of faith. Chatlien added layers of depth and centreing to Sarah – to give us a more exploratory experience of her psychological state and the intuitive approach she took to guiding herself through trying times of adversity.

You can see the research was well used in this story, as it is a gentle presence in the background – where there is gravity to Sarah and her situations. I appreciated the flashbacks to when Sarah was younger – smitten with the promise of marriage and also, the hardness of realising your mother would make your life more difficult if you did not wed. Sarah didn’t have an easy path to walk in life – yet she persevered each time her path was blocked. In many ways, I felt it was her past which emboldened her present – if she could overcome what she did as a young woman, she could draw new courage to live amongst the Sioux.

One thing which is a strong credit to Ms Chatlien’s passion for taking on these women in history is how she presents a realistic image of their lives. She holds nothing back – she let’s you into their life bit by bit – laying bare the facts of their days and how they would fill those hours either through work, duty or the intimate moments with their spouse. She sought to find a way to give these woman dimension in the present by re-tracing their footsteps in the past and I believe she’s done this twice over now and will continue to find the hidden voices who are clamouring for a writer like her to take up their stories and give them the freedom to be seen at long last.

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As you might have observed – I am listening to music more than ever as I read & blog my ruminations – giving me a new layer of connection between the stories & my own personal takeaways of the story’s heart. Recently, I switched apps for listening to music – finding iHeartRadio to be more stable and equally as lovely for providing a myriad of choices in regards to genres of music! I wasn’t sure what I wanted the soundtrack to be for ‘Blood Moon’ – however, my fall-back is ambient & trance electronica – which is how I found ‘Trancid’ which is a merger of dance & electronica. For whichever reason, it just ‘fit’ my reading hours spent inside ‘Blood Moon’. I also took a break in this station to listen to Lorenna McKennitt’s The Book of Secrets album on YouTube as atmospherically it was well fused to the drama!

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This blog tour is courtesy of: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Blood Moon blog tour via HFVBTs
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{SOURCES: Cover art of “Blood Moon: A Captive’s Tale”, book synopsis, author biography, author photograph of Ruth Hull Chatlien and the tour badge were all provided by HFVBTs (Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours) and used with permission. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets embedded by codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Book Review Banner using Unsplash.com (Creative Commons Zero) Photography by Frank McKenna and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2017.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2017 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

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 Thursday, 31 August, 2017 by jorielov in 19th Century, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Cover | Notation on Design, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Indie Author, The American Frontier




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