#HistoricalMondays | Book Review | “The Gift of the Seer” [long awaited sequel to “The Spirit Keeper” (2013)] by K.B. Laugheed

Posted Monday, 11 February, 2019 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

#HistoricalMondays blog banner created by Jorie in Canva.

I am launching a new weekly featured concentration of book reviews on Jorie Loves A Story which celebrates my love and passion for the historical past! For those of whom are regular readers and visitors to my blog, you’ll denote a dedicated passion for reading Historical Fiction (and all the lovely segues of thematic therein) – I am a time traveller of the historical past every chance I get to disappear into a new era and/or century of exploration. There isn’t a time period I haven’t enjoyed ruminating over since [2013] and there are a heap of lovely timescapes I’ve yet to encounter.

This feature was inspired by the stories I’ve read, the stories I’ve yet to experience and the beauty of feeling interconnected to History through the representation of the past through the narratives being writ by today’s Historical Fiction authors. It is to those authors I owe a debt of gratitude for enlightening my bookish mind and my readerly heart with realistic characters, illuminating portals of living history and a purposeful intent on giving each of us a strong representation of ‘life’ which should never become dismissed, forgotten or erased.

I am beginning this feature with the sequel to a beloved historical novel I first read in [2013] – it was one of the first ARCs I received and it was the first year I was a book blogger though it was through a connection outside my life as a blogger. I am celebrating K.B. Laugheed’s literature to kick-off this feature and hopefully will inspire my followers to take this new weekly journey with me into the stories which are beckoning to read their narrative depths and find the words in which to express the thoughts I experienced as I read.

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Acquired Book By: In [2013] I was still participating in the Early Reviewer programme via Book Browse wherein I received an ARC for “The Spirit Keeper” – a new Historical Fiction narrative which sought to break boundaries of its genre and which captured me heart and soul as I read it. It was an emotionally gutting read, a historical reckoning of a story and it left me ruminatively curious about what the ‘next’ chapter of this extraordinary character’s life would be in the sequel. 

I decided to write an expanded review on my blog for my own edification after having contributed my Early Reviewer review to Book Browse – it was one of the few times I was able to do this even though there are a few other ARCs I received from Book Browse I’d like to still blog about in the near future which fittingly have more to be said on their behalf from my readerly experience.

Likewise, I also reached out to the author directly shortly after I posted my review in September of 2013; remember dear hearts, I launched my blog live on the 6th of August, 2013 – so this expanded review became one of the first officially celebrated novels of Jorie Loves A Story in the beginning of finding my writerly voice and my bookish presence in the book blogosphere. It pre-dated hosting blog tours and working with publishers, publicists and authors directly.

Although I remained in contact with the author a bit over the years – simply checking the status on the sequel or offering encouraging thoughts on writing it – I don’t consider this a conflict of interest as to be honest, it was not constant contact and we weren’t in contact on a regular basis nor did we touch base each year since 2013.

When I received an email from Ms Laugheed this past December, 2018 – to say I was pleasantly gobsmacked to have heard from her after a long absence of communication is putting it mildly! I was overjoyed – more for her than for me – as she was announcing the sequel was being published! She decided at long last to go the Indie route towards  publication and I was full of joy and happiness for her as this was a very long and dedicated route back to publishing a sequel I believed in as a reader (and there are others like me out there) but of which I wasn’t sure if any of us would get a chance to embrace it in published form.

Thereby, I did not hesitate to respond to her request to accept this new novel for review consideration – the only thing which delayed my entrance into its chapters was my five week Winter virus (from before Christmas to the early weeks of January, 2019) and my three successive migraines (from mid-January to early February). I read this immediately after recovering from my third migraine and was thrilled I could finally attach my mind and heart round the continuing journey of Katie and Hector!

I received a complimentary copy of “The Gift of the Seer” by the author K.B. Laugheed in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Re-visiting “The Spirit Keeper”

My original motivation to read the novel: 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!

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Ms Laugheed advised me to re-read “The Spirit Keeper” ahead of reading “The Gift of the Seer” – what I hadn’t the heart to tell her is my copy of the novel is packed as most of my personal library has been packed for the last four years. I couldn’t sort out which box it is held within if I had a compass as I literally have quite the expansive library being stored right now. This is one key reason why I can’t always re-read the novels I’m reviewing – as I only have a handful of books I’ve reviewed the past few years unpacked and shelved – most of which, are first or seconds in series, awaiting new releases to where I can turn back to and re-read a bit ahead of delving into the next installment. I did have The Spirit Keeper prominently shelved for quite a few years after it was released – it was only recently I had to make the hard choice to pack it away for safe keeping til I can restore my library back to rights.

Therefore, I did what any other book blogger would do in this situation – I borrowed a well-loved copy from my local library and as I re-entered the story, I was quite shocked by what I discovered! I hadn’t forgotten as much as I was expecting, too! I re-read the opening bridge of the novel – re-visiting how Katie was taken from her family, the traumatic transitioning into life with the Spirit Keeper and Hector as much as re-aligning in my mind the era this series is set and the mannerisms of how the story is told. As Ms Laugheed has a very distinctive style of historical story-telling; it is one reason I was hugged so dearly close into the story originally.

Secondly, as I noticed a lot of readerly flashbacks moving through my mind’s eye after that particular re-visitation – I immediately flipped to the last quarter of the novel, resumed as if I hadn’t been absent from this story for :six: long years and re-lived the concluding chapters, as fresh as dew on recently mowed grass. I seriously was re-captured by what was left behind for my eyes and heart to find – thereby, I knew with certainty I was prepared as I ever could be to re-enter Katie and Hector’s world.

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For those of you who might never have had the pleasure of joy reading this novel, let me select a few quotations from my original review – both from what I shared with Book Browse after first reading the ARC and what I expounded upon on Jorie Loves A Story thereafter.

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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.

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.

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).

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.

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!

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.

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!

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.

-quoted from my review of The Spirit Keeper

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#HistoricalMondays | Book Review | “The Gift of the Seer” [long awaited sequel to “The Spirit Keeper” (2013)] by K.B. LaugheedThe Gift of the Seer
by K.B. Laugheed
Source: Direct from Author

Katie O' Toole's epic adventure began in "The Spirit Keeper" (Plume 2013) when she was rescued from a 1747 frontier massacre only to find herself chosen as the "Spirit Keeper" of a dying Indian seer. She hesitated to accept this mysterious obligation until she fell in love with the Seer's bodyguard, an Indian man she called Hector.

Much has happened since my last writing,..

In The Gift of the Seer, Katie and Hector continue their journey across the continent, but the more Katie learns about the peculiar ways of her husband's people, the more she dreads arriving at their destination. Will anyone believe she is the Spirit Keeper she pretends to be? Equally troubling, Katie knows the Seer expected her to prove his Vision - a Vision which foretold of infinite Invaders coming to his world - but to prove this prophecy, she must give his people the great Gift he also predicted. The only problem is that Katie has no gift to give.

Years pass as she desperately searches for a way to fulfill her promise to the dead Seer, but when his former rival threatens to expose her as a fraud, Katie finally understands that her life and the life of all the people in her new world hang in the balance. That's when she knows she must give a Gift - she must - before it is too late.

Did you honestly think you could get so much and give nothing in return?

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

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1732886216

Published by Self Published

on 7th January, 2019

Format: Hardcover Edition

Pages: 372

the spirit keeper duology:

The Spirit keeper & the gift of the seer

This is a Self-Published novel

Available Formats: Hardback, Paperback and Ebook

Converse on Twitter: #GiftOfTheSeer, #TheSpiritKeeper Sequel + #KBLaugheed
as well as #HistNov + #HistoricalFiction or #HistFic

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About K.B. Laugheed

The Gift of the Seer by K.B. Laugheed

K.B. Laugheed is an organic gardener and master naturalist who wrote her first published novel, The Spirit Keeper, as part penance for the sins of her family’s pioneer past, part tribute to all our ancestors, and part grandiose delusion as she hopes to remind modern Americans of the grim price we paid for the glorious life we take for granted today.

But The Spirit Keeper is not a story about guilt. It’s about gratitude.

The Gift of the Seer is officially available worldwide as it was published on the 7th of January, 2019.

To support the author directly, kindly consider purchasing her novels through her online store.

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my final takeaways after “the spirit keeper”:

(originally shared in 2013)

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 kernel 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, 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!

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comparatively katie:

The Katie we had met in The Spirit Keeper was a wide-eyed girl of seventeen who despite her youthfulness knew she had a chance of changing her stars, endeavouring to undertake an adventurous journey which may or may not lead to long life but it was a chance at a new beginning away from her biological family. In that first choice at changing her destiny, Katie started to cocoon herself away from her girlhood and tuck closer to her entrance into womanhood.

A mere year might have passed on a traditional calendar, but as we see Katie today, we realise there has been far more growth in her past twelvemonth than most eighteen year olds could readily claim as their own. The isolation she’s experienced by Hector’s side and her fullness of belief in their union has aligned her on a different path than most whilst giving her a chance to retreat inward to find the personal growth she might have sought out lateron in her life had she not left her family.

The freedom of being able to experience life with Hector has given her a rounding of knowledge outside the horrors of her past. She could self-evolve differently than she might have had she never been freed of her family and in that ledger of growth, Katie became a woman she might never have conceived of being possible. Though as she stepped out of her cultural identity, she also re-defined who she was as a woman, as a human and as a spiritual being attempting to reconcile ancient truths about purpose, destiny and the changing tides within a lifetime of choices.

my review of the gift of the seer:

A year has passed in the life of Katie O’ Toole – we began her tale in 1747 and we re-enter her life in 1748 – she’s still in the midst of travelling towards Hector’s homeland, with the fortitude of mind to re-trigger her memories of who she had been prior to being captured. This is part of her singular strength – of using intentional thought and purpose of heart to re-produce the person she had been as a juxtaposition to the woman she has become now. She doesn’t want to ‘let go’ of her personhood – as she has undergone a transformation few young women in her era would have been able to endure. She is not entirely Katie O’ Toole any longer but she’s not quite removed from whom Katie O’ Toole had once been either. Those memories of a prior life, a lifetime away from her reality now are still inside her bones; her memories are part of her own living truth.

I felt the best gift since her path crossed with Syawa and Hector is her time spent with Running Fox, as the holywoman allowed her the grace of recognising how to honour Syawa’s trust in her abilities and how to bridge the gaps between the gift he wants her to bestow his people and her own awareness of her evolving enlightenment as a woman on the cusp of finding transformation within her own soul.

It never surprised me how their cultural differences affected their marriage – even in small ways, Katie and Hector were from two separate worlds. Laugheed continues to shine a light on those differences, including how Katie attempts to discuss these with Hector as they each attempt to bridge the distances between their beliefs, customs and understandings of social expectations. In this installment – it was a heady argument over the practice of polygamy vs remaining faithful to one wife and one union of marriage. In their deference, Katie was approaching this from a girl who grew up in the cultural she had and Hector was reflecting on the choices his kin would make but there was a difference between what works for a goose and what works for the gander. I had a good chuckle over how Katie’s infamous red hair might have tainted her understanding of what Hector was trying to explain to her – as her temper sometimes took the best of her, which of course led them to having to have a bit of a intense fireside chat to work out the wrinkles of their misunderstandings!

I knew there was a bit of missing history between Syawa and Hector – though in truth, I hadn’t quite ascertained what that missing history had been originally as the story only yielded so much revelation before I had concluded The Spirit Keeper. Now, whilst consuming the sequel, there is a new layer of illumination overlaid against the memories of the prior story – when I first read what had drawn these two together it sheds a deeper light on the heart of the story itself. Of what motivated Laugheed to tell it and why she choose to take the route she had to deliver it. It isn’t that this story isn’t one that hasn’t been told before – it is how it is renewing a timeless tale between classes of people, the societal views of wealth and the interconnecting pieces of what unites individual humanity.

I loved seeing Katie and Hector in sublime blissitude in each other’s company – it was reminding me of how they spent most of their favourite hours in the previous installment. Where they could hug inside the wider world of nature and be with one another under sky and stars. Theirs was a marriage built on mutual trust and a deep respect for each other’s emotional needs. It was beautiful to see this part of their life restored after the harrowing incidents they had had to overcome. I hadn’t felt they’d restore this bit of their life so soon after what they had to endure – it was almost like they were granted a second honeymoon, if they might have known what that would have meant.

The arrival of Hector’s brother Otter was quite the surprise, as I was not expecting their moments in the wilderness to end quite so soon but they ought to have wouldn’t they? They couldn’t be remiss and stay in the wilds longer than necessary to reach his land, his people and the life he had left behind? I think part of me understood the remorse ebbing out of Katie – she was about to cross the threshold into Hector’s ancestral grounds – to unite with a tribe she was terrified would out her as a woman without the foundation of the gift the seer had entrusted her to deliver. That was her most warring thought in her soul – how was she going to endeavour to live up to Syawa’s exceptions? It was no longer as simplistic as Running Fox has allowed her to believe; to hope against the tides of anxiety bubbling through her blood. Hector for his part was overly joyous for being this close to home – to return and find favour amongst his people for the journey he had undertaken.

My favourite new character is Syawa’s mother – she has a gentle and kind spirit about her as much as she has wisdom from an eternal source of inspiration. The ways in which she interacted with Katie on first sight and meeting; the knowing way she understood what she was feeling and how she determined to accept Katie as her own daughter is what touched my heart. For her, the journey of her son’s path was not just complete – he had taken a bit of a reincarnated passageway where his soul had merged into the women she was now accepting as the one who would re-fuell the purpose of her life. The moment of recognition and of maternal acceptance held a purity of joy only a mother’s love can give another person – she was the key to Katie’s role in this new dynamic of Hector’s people.

The rest of his tribe I was uncertain would accept Katie as readily as Syawa’s mother – for there was the rival who would never accept her on principle (ie. Thicky) and the spitefulness of a tart who had eyes for Hector but of whom he never had eyes on her to begin a relationship out of lust without love fuelling the connection.

This story has been anchoured to Katie’s journey – how she views herself, how she observes the Natives and how she tries to sort out her internal world as she lives a life between the past, the present and the uncertainties of the future sparked through Syawa’s vision. As we endeared ourselves to listen to Katie’s internal war between what she expected out of her life and the resolute manner in which she had to augment that expectation with the reality of her life with Hector is one that is historically relatable. She had a theory of thought about what her life would become once she was back in Hector’s homeland. The reality of that imaginative place was not reckoning well with the reality of his people’s lives – in this, the greatest drama was her own self-loathing for her own prejudicial views about how living in a Native village is countered against the life she chose to leave. Another element of thoughtful purpose and insight from Laugheed – whose nudging the reader to see the trials of Katie’s life as an everywoman caught up by love and misguided by her choices. Laugheed wants us to peel back the layers of Katie and Hector’s pride and prejudicial views in order to see who they are without the false confidence of whom they could have been if they had been on firmer ground at the beginning of their lives together. Meaning – they entered into a marriage with so little information about each others’ past, including their respective ideas of ‘normalcy’ that they truly were blinded by their unique differences when it came down to life amongst his relations.

Syawa’s mother, known to Katie as simply “Mama” as she was respectfully attempting to carry-on as Syawa would expect her to now that she was in his home village; was the calming balm of light and sympathy Katie was in dire need of securing. She found a surrogate mother in Mama – an understanding friend and a soothsayer in her own right for how Mama reflected on Katie’s path back to her and the world Hector had grown up inside. It was one of those philosophical passages of clarity where Katie was forced to see things through a different perspective than the one she had constantly considered on her own behalf. No truer statement than having a bit of distance and outside observation on one’s own life can alter the perceptions we cast against our own hours. For Katie, it gave her something to feel buoyant again. She needed this period of mothering by Mama; it was an ache of loss she never realised she had welled up inside her soul and it was healing day by day.

I became so entwined into reading The Gift of the Seer, I began to savour my time with Katie and Hector; knowing full well, their story, this continuation of their journey was one I was appreciating to take again. I’ve grown quite a bit as a reader from my first year to my nearly sixth year as a book blogger – even as I re-read the initial passages of The Spirit Keeper, I did not shy away from some of the scenes my younger self glossed over instead. Not that they were easy to digest, those kinds of scenes are chilling and brutal for a reason but I was able to handle them in a different way than I had previously. Similarly, as I was caught inside the flow of the narrative within The Gift of the Seer, I re-experienced the alignment I had originally – where Katie’s voice and word usage felt as natural to me as it had in 2013. Almost as if re-shifting back into her thoughts was as easily as recalling a former half of my readerly life; re-drawing the portrait back together and resuming where I had paused in my walk with Katie. As all of us who read are living through the character we’re reading – thus, for me, I saw the growth in us both whilst I continued her story.

A good portion of this story is interconnected to the mental state and health of Katie. Laugheed takes a strong route inside Katie’s internal war – where her mental health is at odds with her sanity. In one moment, I thought she might be hovering close to post-partum depression – there were signs that this could be the case but I also felt, as she is so disconnected from her upbringing, from the part of the world where her own people lived, in such an isolated state of living with only the Natives, that perhaps a part of her mind was fracturing. She had put everything on the line to create this new life with Hector but she hadn’t thought through what she would be sacrificing as a result of that selfish choice to escape. At other times, I felt it was closer to the truth her struggle was with clinical depression brought on by PTSD.

The approach to heal Katie by Hector and his village is heart-warming because it is a cardinal truth of his tribe – of how a community must raise up the persons who are not strong enough themselves to save their spirits from the nightmares they cannot control. It is a beautiful gift Hector and his family are attempting to give her and as a reader re-entering her story, it is drawing together the missing pieces of her life’s story. As this was always her journey – each leg of the way, it was like a patchwork quilt being stitched together one pattern at a time in order to create a story out of memories of hours lived.

As Katie was coming into her own – of finding confidence in her gift and the purpose she was given by Syawa, the more I was cheering her on as she was truly re-defining how one woman could effectively change history. There is an important truth within The Gift of the Seer which simply states that once your awakened, truly awakened your eyes cannot become blind once more to the ways of the world. To say more would spoilt the message of the novel – but in stating this, it seeks to highlight the gift Laugheed gave us with her stories. She was seeking a way to tell a timeless story about humanity – about our quest for the truthfulness of our lives and of finding meaning out of chaos when all of life become a muddled sea of misunderstanding. The hardest part about life is it must be lived forward without the foresight of the future – for second sight is great in theory but to truly live through our experiences we have to live each day and gain knowledge from what we learn.

I cried twice before the conclusion of The Gift of the Seer – two deaths hit me in a choking sense of loss to which I couldn’t resolve my feelings about whom died. One was an elder and one was a companion in fur – which gives nothing away, as this story is intergenerational – where you are privy to the entire lifespan of the characters, their children and their descendants as well as their spouses and the expansive community in whence they live. My heart tugged at me – mostly because I could relate to both deaths if countered against my own living experiences and since so much of this duology hinges closely to what we experience IRL (yet told differently and by a different lens) the emotions flow rather freely.

My tears spilt freely by the time I reached the last two pages – to where the paragraphs blurred out of readable sight – I was grieving the loss of these characters, but not in the way you might think – the grief was knowing my time with them was ending. I now felt the chasm of distance Katie had always felt herself – because time is never our friend but our companion of memory.

If I could hug a book so dearly tight it would be this one – looking back, I never would have suspected the route my life would have taken me from September 2013 to February 2019; in so many ways, I can relate to Katie’s own journey because of what she says in the parting paragraphs – how it is through our adversities and our strife we gain the most; we transform through the wreck of when our lives are turnt upside down and are re-moulded again as we rise through the ashes of tribulations we can never foresee but must endure as they arrive. I am wicked thankful I was part of Book Browse in 2013 inasmuch as I am thankful I am a book blogger now in 2019. There is a thread of connection and of relevancy in everything we do – if I had not been a reviewer then, would I be a book blogger now? And, of the stories I’ve felt touched by and have found alight in my life – whose to say all of that wasn’t writ before I acknowledge my own path evolving into the scope of my own reality? Especially considering the fact Jorie Loves A Story emerged out of a whisper of a dream I was meant to embrace?

We are our own soothsayers and our own guiding forces of reckoning – we each have an conscience and a will of strength to follow the faithfulness within us towards tomorrow. What a beautiful testament this duology became to resonate the journey all humans must take to discover their own humanity and the purpose of why we are alive.

On the gruesome scene of battle:

Blessedly this installment is lighter in grisly scenes but I think anyone whose familiar with Native American History and the weapons available can decipher what can happen during an incident or attack. Therefore, when that scene finally arrived towards the final quarter of the novel, I was thankful Laugheed pulled back a bit even when she was writing the graphic nature of what happened in the details that were warranted in the scene. It was something I was expecting due to how The Spirit Keeper began but was hoping it would be minimal in this second half; it was and I am indebted to her as it made reading this installment far easier on my sensitive heart.

I actually had more trouble with my emotions – as it is an emotionally convicting narrative!!

That is of course, until I reached the passages of the Great Tragedy,… in the final chapters,..

my final thoughts about katie & hector’s choices:

Katie, Hector, Mama and their expansive family sought to choose a middle way – between Katie’s  past and their past; a place where they could live as one, together, true and in celebration of a singular truth all of mankind can recognise as the main pursuit of life: love. The hardest part of their choices was accepting what their path would become as they yielded to the journey, not the destination. To accept what came out of the actions they could not control and what they had to learn as truth out of the barriers that stood before them in language.

I came to love learning about Flame, Icy, Eartha, Sky and Airy – as I am sure everyone who picks up this generous tome of human experience and community fortitude will find for themselves. Nestling into their story is to hug closer to Katie and Hector’s path as all of them are forever tied to one another as it is meant to be for us all. Without one fateful choice made, all of which came after would have been nevermore and that is the saddest bit of all – not just in this story but in our own lives; how if you retract one choice, you erase your own history.

Reading this installment is a perfect equal to the original – it is two halves of a single volume – a novel spilt in half where one woman endeavoured to leave behind a record of her hours, an accounting of her days and the wisdom which she gained through seeking the truths of what her life could yield to her in the years she spent truly blessed for the life she had to live. These are those moments – as both novels work hand in hand as a duology of days.

on the historical writing styling of k.b. laugheed:

One of the beautiful graces of Laugheed’s styling of historical narrative is how she’s etched out the eclipse of Katie’s immersion into Native American life. It isn’t just the fact she’s crossed into a different life – she’s embodied their language, their views, their traditions and with that – there is an authenticity to how this is written. Laugheed stated one very pivotal observation very early-on in The Gift of the Seer when she had Katie explain to the reader: thinking Indian, writing English. She’s no longer an Englishwoman – her transformation into a new cultural heritage is complete. She is like an ex-pat whose fully embraced their new country, adopted their new language and hasn’t looked back in regret due to how thankful they are for their new life. I feel this is true of Katie – even though I know she has a lot weighing on her soul in regards to her mission as a Spirit Keeper – personally, she’s made choices she has resolved in regards to what those choices meant for her biological family of the past and what it meant for her biological children of the future.

Laugheed re-establishes our understanding of her Native characters by giving us small gestures of the truthfulness of how they lived their lives. There are customs and traditions as much as there is the craft of telling stories and of being actively conversational in order to make connections to those you’ve just met. I love the details she’s included but also, the level of continuity from The Spirit Keeper to The Gift of the Seer – if these are the only two stories in the series (and I believe they are) – the series is a duology of dramatic Feminist Historical Fiction.

Feminist driven due to the level of hard-won courage on Katie’s part and the ingenuity of leading by heart and instinct rather than of a fortitude sparked out of knowledge. Katie was traversing a culture without a rudder of understanding towards the larger scope of what their beliefs were and it was in her naivete she accomplished the most. This is another nod of how genre-bent this series is as it strikes a hearty balance between all the influences which inform its context.

Laugheed continues to be poignantly connected to nature, the natural order of life and the truths of all mankind wherein everyone can find an entry into her text. (such as the spirit within us all) This is a story that self-evolves as you read it – from one installment to the next, it is a perfected narrative of exploring the dimensions of a human soul, the emotional baggage of a lived life and the joyfulness of giving into the moment our lives bring us unexpected happiness.

i read this in one sitting – where night folded into morn, and where morning slipped into afternoon – i knew i could not tear my eyes from its text, it is unputdownable due to the nature of its strength to be a realistic story about persons who are as real as their living composites and whose lives you shall never soon forget for having crossed your heart & your imagination,.. Laugheed has blessed us all.

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i would be remiss in not mentioning, i listened to the Acoustic Evening Playlist provided by #Spotify as I read “The Gift of the Seer”. a collection of songs & songwriters whose achingly emotional songbook of selections befit my reading hours with this author and the story she’s given us to breathe into our readerly hearts and bookish souls. The music and her words co-merged into an experience i shall not soon forget and am blissfully thankful to have experienced.

some of the songs & singers included: fickle heart by ira wolf; re: stacks by bon iver; what am i here for by jade bird; danceflower by mary glenn; howling light by j. tillman; hold you in my arms by ray lamontagne; little more time by ciaran lavery; here with me by susie suh; la lune by billie marten; stay awake by joseph; drinking song by haley heynderickx; nothing arrived by villagers; long lost century by the woodlands; nimbin by mappe of; poison and wine by the civil wars.

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This book review is courtesy of:


the author K.B. Laugheed

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Reading this novel counted towards a few of my reading challenges for 2019:

2019 HistFic Reading Challenge banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Pop Sugar Challenge : from a prior challenge :

Next Book From A Series You’ve Started – 2013 to 2019

2019 New Release Challenge created by mylimabeandesigns.com for unconventionalbookworms.com and is used with permission.

This review is cross-posted to LibraryThing.

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#HistoricalMondays blog banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Join me on 18th March whilst I ruminate over:

the girl from oto by amy maroney

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{SOURCES: Book cover for “The Gift of the Seer”, book synopsis and author biography were provided by the author K.B. Laugheed and are being used with permission. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets were embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: #HistoricalMondays banner and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2019.

Related Articles:

Interview with K.B. Laugheed, author of The Spirit Keeper, 20 September 2013– (qwillery.blogspot.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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A shout-out of love for “The Gift of the Seer” – (@koontz1_ma)

A shout-out about “The Gift of the Seer” – (@senseopenness)

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I’m a social reader | I tweet my bookish life

Comments via Twitter:

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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 Monday, 11 February, 2019 by jorielov in #HistoricalMondays, #JorieLovesIndies, 18th Century, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Book Browse, Book Review (non-blog tour), Brothers and Sisters, Bullies and the Bullied, Colonial America, Coming-Of Age, Content Note, Cultural & Religious Traditions, Cultural Heritage, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Diary Accountment of Life, Domestic Violence, Early Colonial America, Environmental Conscience, Epistolary Novel | Non-Fiction, Equality In Literature, Family Drama, Family Life, Fathers and Daughters, First Impressions, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Folklore, Genre-bender, Grief & Anguish of Guilt, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, History, Horror-Lite, Indie Author, Kidnapping or Unexplained Disappearances, Life Shift, Literary Fiction, Loss of an unbourne child, Magical Realism, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Midwives & Childbirth, Mother-Daughter Relationships, Motherhood | Parenthood, Multi-cultural Characters and/or Honest Representations of Ethnicity, Multicultural Marriages & Families, Native American Fiction, Native American Spirituality, Old World Arts & Crafts, Philosophical Intuitiveness, Political Narrative & Modern Topics, Prejudicial Bullying & Non-Tolerance, Premonition-Precognitive Visions, Psychological Abuse, PTSD, Realistic Fiction, Self-Published Author, Siblings, Sisterhood friendships, Sisters & the Bond Between Them, Social Change, Spirituality & Metaphysics, Story in Diary-Style Format, Superstitions & Old World Beliefs, Taboo Relationships & Romance, Terminal Illness &/or Cancer, The American Frontier, Trauma | Abuse & Recovery, Unexpected Pregnancy, Vulgarity in Literature, Wilderness Adventures, Women's Health

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