Silki, The Girl of Many Scarves: VALLEY OF SHADOWS

Book Three

Young Adult - Adventure
254 Pages
Reviewed on 05/08/2023
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Author Biography

Jodi Lea Stewart is a fiction author who believes in and writes about the triumph and humor of the human spirit through overcoming adversity. She grew up smelling cedar berries and cow pens on a large cattle ranch wedged between the Navajo Nation and the White Mountain Apache Tribe. Her friends were Native American and Hispanic, with a few Anglos thrown in for good measure. Her pastimes were singing to chickens, climbing giant petroglyph-etched boulders, hanging on for dear life in the back end of rattly old pickups driven over terracotta roads so washed out they qualified as mini-Grand Canyons, and riding one of the orneriest horses God ever put on this planet. She has rubbed elbows with cowpunchers, intellectuals, southern folk, "outlaws," and all shades of beautiful people her whole life and now writes historical and contemporary adventure novels set in the South, the Southwest, and far beyond.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Pikasho Deka for Readers' Favorite

Valley of Shadows is the third installment of Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves series by Jodi Lea Stewart, and follows the adventures of a young Navajo teen named Silki Begay. The Navajo Nation Fair is in full swing, and all Silki wants is to take part in the festivities with her best friend, Birdie Yazzee. However, things go wrong when the two girls inadvertently help a horse thief to steal one of the prized performers at the rodeo. Meanwhile, a Japanese couple approaches Silki, seeking her help to locate a young boy. In the following days, Silki is involved in many unexpected adventures. These include a chance encounter with a cougar, discovering the secret place of the Ghost Herd, learning about the Japanese prisoners during World War II, and playing a crucial role in bringing down a nefarious man.

Imagine the story of Tom Sawyer set in Arizona with the tale revolving around a young Navajo girl and you will end up with something like Valley of Shadows. Jodi Lea Stewart tells a captivating young adult adventure tale that is emotionally resonant and leaves you with a smile on your face. It's the classic coming-of-age story where a young girl living on the Rez faces some unexpected challenges, which she must overcome to help her friends and family. Silki is an adorable character whose relationships with her friends and family drive her actions. If you enjoy realistically wholesome adventure tales, this one is right up your alley.

Essien Asian

Silki and her best friend Birdie are out enjoying the sights and sounds of the fair when in a moment of misjudged innocence they become unwitting accomplices in the theft of a horse. What makes it even more painful for Silki is the owner of the horse just so happens to be Venita Tsoho, an icon she looks up to. Silki is determined to make amends but when she discovers this is just one of a series of horse thefts in the area she knows there is a mystery afoot. Meanwhile, Nick’s leave from the Marine Corps is nearing its end but she is reluctant to say goodbye. Will she be able to solve the robbery incidents? What is the story behind Old Man Concho’s mysterious dagger in Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: VALLEY OF SHADOWS by Jodi Lea Stewart?

Jodi Lea Stewart integrates the rich culture and tradition of the native American Navajo nation into her story with dexterity and aplomb that belies the depth of research that went into this interesting book. The storyline is adventurous while the characters that populate her exciting story are as individually diverse in their make-up as they are interesting in their origin stories. I particularly admire the way Stewart infuses the naivete associated with youth into a story with an extremely heavy emotional component. The pinon rules provide some unusual comic relief while Silki's attempt to bond with Lava as she acquaints herself with the Ghost Herd provides a subplot that is deep and interesting to follow. The attention to detail is impressive, and the picture gallery combined with the glossary at the end of the book does an excellent job of getting us immersed in this story. Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: VALLEY OF SHADOWS is a beautiful novel that I am certain all readers will enjoy.

K.C. Finn

Valley of Shadows is a work of fiction in the adventure, historical fiction, and native culture subgenres, and it forms the third and final work of the Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves trilogy. It is intended for young adult readers but can also be enjoyed by mature middle-grade audiences and adults seeking a young-at-heart adventure with a lot of depth. Penned by author Jodi Lea Stewart, this gorgeous sweeping narrative takes us across the wild vistas of the American southwest as we return to Silki and her life on the Navajo Reservation. When a famous horse is stolen, Silki must corral her boy-crazy friend Birdie into action, unraveling a series of interesting connections and secrets from the past along the way.

Author Jodi Lea Stewart brings a vivid adventure with a fully cinematic quality to life in this well-described, imaginative, and deeply realistic tale of Navajo life. Silki is a strong central character whose passion for her people and culture is heart-warming, but there’s also a wild streak to her and a desire to explore and make her own mark on the world that’s very relatable for the YA audience to explore. I enjoyed the conspiracies of the plot and the wartime secrets buried in the storyline that come to light with vivid bursts of historical action, as well as the melding of myths, legends, beliefs, and practices from the Navajo that both educate readers and enhance the emotional depth of the work. Overall, I would not hesitate to recommend Valley of Shadows to fans of the existing series and the series in general for readers who enjoy well-penned YA with plenty of unique adventure.