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Reviewed by J. Aislynn d'Merricksson for Readers' Favorite
Storykeeper by Daniel Smith is a beautifully woven tale of stories nested inside stories. It is a tale of times long past and peoples long gone. Long before writing, stories were kept by shamans, Druids, lorekeepers, bards. They encoded history, myth, legend, and kept a people in touch with their ancestors. Storykeeper threads through the lives of several such lorekeepers, binding them together, even as the stories they tend bind family and tribe and the whole of a people together. There is Tantino, the elderly hermit, Nanza, called Manaha, whom he cares for after her family is killed, and Ichisi, who listens to Nanza tell stories. These stories encapsulate a history of several generations, from the time of Hernando de Soto’s arrival through to the next century.
I found this story to be so sad. My training, and one of my big interests, in archaeology is North and South America, and it never ceases to amaze and sadden me the utter devastation contact with Europeans had on the native populations of the Americas. Change is inevitable. It is the only constant and assured thing in life. Everything passes into something other. That's why it is so good to have storykeepers. So we never forget what once was.
I enjoyed the amount of research Smith seems to have put into this novel. It is a glimpse into the Americas of a bygone era, into lost names, lost places, and lost cultures. This story reminded me a bit of W. Michael and Kathleen O’Neal Gear’s First North Americans archaeological fiction. If you enjoy historical fiction, especially of early America, be sure to check out Daniel Smith’s Storykeeper.