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Reviewed by Mamta Madhavan for Readers' Favorite
Based in part on the experiences of David Thompson, a 19th century Hudson’s Bay fur trader, Naapiikoan Winter by Alethea Williams is an intriguing and compelling novel that takes readers into the past. They learn about life within the Piikani and get to see an exciting and fascinating story of adventure unfold when the Indians were the keepers of the land. The first part of the story begins in Nuevo Mexico at the hacienda of Don Emilio Ramirez. Isobel is taken away in the middle of the night by her father, who regrets his decision. In the second part, Donal Thomas, a young Englishman, opens trade negotiations with the local tribe of Piikani. Donal is new to the Piikani customs and his misunderstanding gets him into trouble. He is surprised to find Isobel, who is not a Piikani, in their encampment. Captured by the Apache warriors when she was young, Isobel has been traded to the Piikani. The Piikani are the powerful members of the Blackfoot confederation and, though they have weapons and horses, they have to trap beaver for Naapiikoan to become rich.
The story is gripping with many layers, and pulls readers into a time when Western America and the Northern plains were being explored by the English. The author weaves the sub-plots into the main story deftly and effortlessly, and gives the book a good pace and movement. All the characters are well portrayed; they are palpable and memorable, and leave a lasting impression in the minds of readers. The author brings the old cultures to life with his vivid descriptions and detailed narration. Readers are introduced to life within the Piikani, making them aware about these customs, traditions, and culture.