Category: Cultural Heritage

#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?

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1732886216

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 Self Published Author

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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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Monday, 11 February, 2019 by jorielov in #HistoricalMondays, #JorieLovesIndies, 18th Century, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, 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

#WyrdAndWonder | Short Story Review of “Ethical Will” by Kaki Olsen part of the UNSPUN: A Collection of Tattered Fairy Tales (anthology)

Posted Thursday, 31 May, 2018 by jorielov , , , 1 Comment

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Book by: My path originally crossed with Kaki Olsen whilst participating on her blog tour via Cedar Fort Publishing & Media for her debut novel: “Swan and Shadow” (see also Review) in [2016]. Since her blog tour, in the years since our paths first crossed, we’ve kept in communication and a friendship organically grew out of our conversations. Therefore, when she started to publish Speculative Fiction stories such as “Ethical Will” in the UNSPUN: a Collection of Tattered Fairy Tales and her story involving an android and a dragon in the Iron Doves Charity Anthology – I have happily been able to feature her on jorielovesastory.com sharing our mutual passion for Speculative Literature.

I received a complimentary PDF copy of “Ethical Will” direct from the author Kaki Olsen in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein. I also received permission to print a copy of this story in order to read in full due to the fact I cannot read stories in electronic form due to my chronic migraines. I appreciated the kindness of the author who allowed me to find a way I could read her story.

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On why this anthology first appealed to me & why I look forward to having a copy:

As you might already be aware of – I have a serious ADDICTION to Speculative Fiction anthologies! So much so, they are amongst my *favourites!* to be reading outside of the INSPY Lit novella or short anthologies which are read with equal passion! When it comes to #SpecFic though, the best joy of my heart is getting caught up inside another writer’s vision of their world – of seeing how they pull together an anthology theme of purpose and how they chose to carry this vision through the shortness of their story! I am forever impressed by those who can pen shorter fiction as it is a struggle for me, as a writer to do the same! I just do not feel as free to write a story in short formats as I have the tendency to write better in ‘length’. Hmm. does that really surprise my readers of Jorie Loves A Story!? I think not! lol

In recent years, I came to garnish an affection for ‘altered fairy tales’ and variant re-tellings on stories of lore – it began with different adaptations in novel-length and then, I started to find myself across the genre spectrum finding myself motivated to see how a writer might re-cast a familiar story against a newer impression of shifting the tale into either a different genre of interest or through a new thread of Speculative possibilities!

Thus, this is how I came to itch to read this particular collection – as much as I want to still gather a copy of the first anthology Iron Doves which features the quirkiness of an android and a dragon who have the fate of the world in their hands in outer space! For those who have been following me for awhile, you know I had a healthy convo about this story during [2017]’s #RRSciFiMonth.

Ahead of reading this review of mine, you might want to visit the convo I had with Ms Olsen about the key components of how she wrote this tale & a bit more about her writing style in general!

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On my connection to Ms Olsen:

I happily have had the pleasure of interacting with Ms Olsen whilst hosting her blog tour “Swan and Shadow” and in the years since it was released. Our friendship grew out of a mutual passion for reading, researching our stories and the many mutual interests we each share whilst finding ourselves randomly conversing on Twitter. We have enjoyed keeping in touch sharing our bookish and writerly lives whilst appreciating a fascination with the world of Fantasy.

I am disclosing this, to assure you that I can formulate an honest opinion, even though I have interacted with her ahead of reading her novels. I treat each book as a ‘new experience’, whether I personally know the author OR whether I am reading a book by them for the first time. This is also true when I follow-up with them on future releases and celebrate the book birthdays that come after their initial publication.

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#WyrdAndWonder | Short Story Review of “Ethical Will” by Kaki Olsen part of the UNSPUN: A Collection of Tattered Fairy Tales (anthology)Unspun
Subtitle: A Collection of Tattered Fairy Tales
by Kaki Olsen
Source: Direct from Author

Whatever happened to “happily ever after”?

Heroes search for happiness, villains plot revenge, and nothing is as easy as it once seemed. Gretel suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, an orphan girl questions Rumpelstiltskin’s legacy, a monster cat searches for a child to eat, and the pied piper realizes stealing a hundred and thirty children may not have been his smartest idea.

Fairy tales have endured for centuries even though—or perhaps because—their conclusions are often more unsettling than satisfying. In Unspun, eleven storytellers come together to challenge and explore a few of those classic tales. Unexpected twists are sure to provoke both thought and laughter.

Gorgeous illustrations by Ruth Nickle accompany each piece.

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

Find on Book Browse

ISBN: 978-1986727877

Also by this author: Unspun

Genres: Anthology Collection of Short Stories and/or Essays, Fairy-Tale Re-Telling, Fantasy Fiction, Re-telling &/or Sequel, Urban Fantasy


Published by After Ever After Publishing

on 4th April, 2018

Format: ePub | PDF Chapter Sampler

Pages: 50

Formats Available: Trade Paperback, Ebook

Read more about ‘Ethical Will’ on the Author’s Site

Previous releases by kaki olsen:

Swan and Shadow by Kaki OlsenIron Doves: A Charity Anthology

I had the pleasure of being on the blog tour celebrating the release for “Swan & Shadow” – you can find my review and my interview as well as Ms Olsen’s Guest Post attached to the tour happily celebrated on Jorie Loves A Story. Previously, I had plans to discuss the short story within the “Iron Doves: Anthology” for ‘Wyrd and Wonder’, however, I will now be doing so in a special feature I’m creating called: #EnterTheFantastic where I showcase stories of Fantasy between ‘Wyrd and Wonder’ events throughout the calendar year wherein I continuously read fantastical stories!

About Kaki Olsen

Kaki Olsen

Kaki Olsen has published stories about swan maidens, space-faring dragons, dying astronauts and shape-shifting sorcerers.

Her articles in AuthorsPublish cover a variety of craft topics. She is also known for her academic papers on everything from Anakin to Zuko for Life, the Universe, and Everything. In her spare time, she travels excessively and reads voraciously.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #WyrdAndWonder
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Posted Thursday, 31 May, 2018 by jorielov in #WyrdAndWonder, After the Canon, Anthology Collection of Stories, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Cultural Heritage, Dark Fantasy, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Debilitating Diagnosis & Illness, Equality In Literature, Fairy Tale Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, Folklore, Inspired By Author OR Book, Inspired by Stories, Judiasm, Mother-Daughter Relationships, Re-Told Tales, Realistic Fiction, Short Stories or Essays, Speculative Fiction, Spirituality & Metaphysics, Terminal Illness &/or Cancer, Twitterland & Twitterverse Event, Urban Fantasy, Women's Health, World Religions, Yiddish Words & Phrases

+Blog Book Tour+ The Duel for Consuelo by Claudia H. Long

Posted Monday, 1 September, 2014 by jorielov , , , 3 Comments

Parajunkee Designs

The Duel for Consuelo by Claudia Long

Published By: BookTrope (@booktrope)
Official Author Websites: Site | Blog@clongnovels | Facebook
Available Formats: Paperback, Ebook

Converse via: #DuelForConsueloBlogTour & #TheDuelForConsuelo

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Acquired Book By:

I was selected to be a tour stop on the “The Duel for Consuelo” virtual book tour through Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours. I received a complimentary copy of the book direct from the author Claudia H. Long, in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

+Blog Book Tour+ The Duel for Consuelo by Claudia H. LongThe Duel for Consuelo
by Claudia H. Long
Source: Author via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

History, love, and faith combine in a gripping novel set in early 1700’s Mexico. In this second passionate and thrilling story of the Castillo family, the daughter of a secret Jew is caught between love and the burdens of a despised and threatened religion. The Enlightenment is making slow in-roads, but Consuelo’s world is still under the dark cloud of the Inquisition. Forced to choose between protecting her ailing mother and the love of dashing Juan Carlos Castillo, Consuelo’s personal dilemma reflects the conflicts of history as they unfold in 1711 Mexico.

A rich, romantic story illuminating the timeless complexities of family, faith, and love.

Places to find the book:

Series: The Castillo Family,


Genres: Historical Fiction


Published by Booktrope Editions

on 2nd of June, 2014

Format: Paperback

Pages: 231

Author Biography:Claudia H. Long

Claudia Long is a highly caffeinated, terminally optimistic married lady living in Northern California. She writes about early 1700’s Mexico and modern day and roaring 20′s California. Claudia practices law as a mediator for employment disputes and business collapses, has two formerly rambunctious–now grown kids, and owns four dogs and a cat. Her first mainstream novel was Josefina’s Sin, published by Simon & Schuster in 2011. Her second one, The Harlot’s Pen, was published with Devine Destinies in February 2014. Claudia grew up in Mexico City and New York, and she now lives in California.

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The breadth of history knitted into the text:

I will admit, part of the reason I was drawn into reading this novel, is because although I have travelled to Mexico in my youth, I haven’t had the proper chance to seek out Mexican stories in fiction since the days I spent climbing pyramids and enjoying the local cuisine. I always appreciate stories whose characters are not only culturally diverse but religiously diverse as well – we live in such a beautiful melting pot of a world, that through literature we can all enlarge our compassion and empathy for others simply by picking up books whose characters have strong historically enriched backgrounds and are set during times in the world’s history that may or may not be highlighted in schools. I will admit, very little was covered about the Mexican history concurrent to the Americas time-line, outside of the more well-known events that are briefly covered. I was always a bit curious about our neighbour to the South, wondering about their own historical stories and the growth they had endured as their country grew through the centuries. I thankfully have started to make a bit of headway on my quest to seek out literature of Mexico and South America, as I previously read City of Promises.

I made an exception to read this novel out of sequence from its series, as when I read the full descriptions of the previous novel and cross-compared it with this novel, I felt this second novel was a better fit for me overall. I liked how the story was centered around a tumultuous slice of history with the family’s struggle for balance in a world that is fighting against their very will to find a measure of normalcy.

My Review of The Duel for Consuelo:

As soon as I opened the pages of The Duel for Consuelo, I was greeted by a passionate story-teller who wanted to not only impart the history of the time the story is set but to curate a connective thread to the family within the story itself. In the Prologue, there is a full sense of urgency to gain freedom on distant shores where both time and distance can help restore a blight on a family’s heritage moreso than staying where they have always lived. In this story, there appeared to be an issue of religious heritage that was giving the family a bit of grief, but as the next generation moved forward with their own life lived in the Americas, a sense of compassionate forgiveness was evident as was the hope for a new day for a family I had just barely begun to become acquainted with as the clock moved forward a century.

Yet, as I am settling into the story, the voice of Rosa’s granddaughter comes out quite strong as the narrative vehicle for which this story revolves; through her eyes it is evident that compassion and acceptance is still quite far away from being given. Through her maternal line of origin there is a history of Judaism, a reverence for Jewish culture and faith which is not aligning well for her family during the Spanish Inquisition. Her father comes across rather bearish as his ideal capitalistic pursuits are less shallow than his vain attempts to clarify his role in the community. Consuelo herself feels pulled through this duality of purpose – to be the daughter her father can be proud of and the caregiver of her mother, whose health is not as well as it had been in previous years. She is tied to the home, yet her dreams carry her outside the walls as she goes about her daily routines.

The most sinister moment was when it was revealed that despite her father’s efforts to quiet a blackmailer, his efforts were found out and his family was thus unprotected by the wrath of justice that would follow if he did not find a way to amend for his actions. This was a curious sideline of the opening structure of the story, as he barely agreed to the blackmail on one breath and he was found in the wrong on the next. I had almost felt that this might have carried forward as a dark secret for the duration of the story, but instead, it flickered and died.

Consuelo’s own gift was in her nurturing attentiveness to those who were ill and her maternal instincts to care for those who needed assistance. Although, I gathered she would have preferred to do more in her life than care for her mother, it was in so doing that she learnt her greatest gift was in the understanding of apothecarist healing practices and the strength of herbs. Her life was overshadowed by the forbearing presence of her father, a man who ruled his roost with a strong hand, and yet, never gave much consequence to his daughter or wife. He was much more interested in keeping up the appearance of who they were rather than being honest inside his relationships and business affairs.  How she found the strength to rise above each adverse and brutal moment of shocking distrust is a credit to her confidence in herself. She was not dealt an easy life nor one that aligned with how she believed her life would fall together – in life as in love, she was betrayed and it was through anguish she started to rise again.

Her father’s inability to forestall the Inquisition’s ransom and blackmail demands (although earlier I felt they were relieved of) played a larger part of the trials in which Consuelo found herself in the middle of succumbing. Her life was not necessarily her own, and her choices although valid in their own right, rarely had the light to shine on their own accord.  The most distraught part of the story is watching Consuelo attempt to right her stars only be dragged by through the mud carved out of her father’s transactions and misdirections of attempting to escape a worser fate. She was used as though she were a pawn, and despite that, she always had the hope for a future she could no longer envision probable. The acidity of rumours and insinuated falsehoods plagued her from the very start, as where truth and lies forged together as though welded in steel, it is within this nest of vipers Consuelo truly had to find a sword stronger than her entangled woes.

On the writing style of Claudia H. Long:

Long tells the story from different points of view which lately I am appreciating being given the opportunity to read with such frequency; as I originally only occasionally had come across this style of the craft. Each sequence is broken down into each of the character’s mindfulness of the events or the daily trials as they arise. As you shift through their connective chapters, you draw out more insight into how the family structure is maintained and who has the keener knowledge of what is actually going on. The ailing mother for instance is given reflective chapters where you are reading her internal thoughts rather than her spoken words in the moment. This is a bridge to understand and accept her husband and daughter, as she is revealing a bit of the unspoken truths that the other two leave amiss.

Long has infused her historical novel with such a breadth of history, you cannot help but acknowledge the dedication she had to researching this part of Mexico’s 17th and 18th Century past. She stitches into the everyday dialogue bits and bobbles of Spanish as well, and as I always lament, I appreciate when a native tongue can be included as it helps to strengthen the picture we have in our mind of the characters whose heritage is not only important to their identity but helps visualise who they are as they live inside the story.

The story is truly emotionally gutting in its intensity throughout the narrative arc, as the story is rooted in the historical knowledge of the time in which the events unfold. The brutal injustice and the prejudicial judgments of those who did not understand a different in faith and belief is quite shocking to read; even if the knowledge of the era is already known. The hardest part for me, was shifting through the more difficult passages to entreat back into the light and to see where Consuelo found her resolve and the strength to carry-on. I credit this to Long who gave her readers resolution even with the realisation that many might not have found the same in real life.

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{SOURCES: Cover art of “The Duel for Consuelo”, author photograph, book synopsis and the tour badge were all provided by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours and used with permission. Blog Tour badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. Bookish Events badge created by Jorie in Canva. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2014.

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Posted Monday, 1 September, 2014 by jorielov in 17th Century, 18th Century, Apothecary, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Christianity, Civil Rights, Cultural & Religious Traditions, Cultural Heritage, Domestic Violence, Equality In Literature, Family Drama, Family Life, Father-Daughter Relationships, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Geographically Specific, Good vs. Evil, Herbalist, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Indie Author, Judaism in Fiction, Light vs Dark, Medical Fiction, Mental Illness, Mexico, Psychological Abuse, Trauma | Abuse & Recovery, World Religions