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Reviewed by Ioana Marza for Readers' Favorite
When Susanna Quiner went out of the Ohio house she shared with her four sisters in order to feed the pig one morning, she did not imagine she might not see them for a very long time, or even forever. Thieving Forest by Martha Conway follows Susanna’s determined search for her sisters after she witnesses their abduction by Native Americans. During this journey, Susanna learns to work hard and do things she would have never imagined, and most of all she learns how much she loves her sisters and how she would stop at nothing to find them. The journey is life-changing for all the Quiners, and some discover very surprising things about themselves and the sacrifices and the life choices they ultimately make. The experience either destroys the life of some or gives a clear path in life to others.
Thieving Forest is a well written novel, very rich in historical details of how life in 1806 must have been. Martha Conway vividly describes a time when a human life was valued less than a horse’s and when people - regardless of race - were traded across America like cattle. It is evident the extent of the research Conway did into the geography of Ohio, the swamps, the food, the diseases that people were battling with, and most of all, the customs of the Native Americans at a time when some of them were dealing with/living in the same settlements as white people, while most of them followed their old tribal ways. Besides being a historical novel, Thieving Forest is a compelling mystery which I read breathlessly, keen to find out what happens next. It also made me think about the precariousness of what we value in life, the same as the Quiners did once with a completely different perspective. The depths of the issues considered, the wealth of historical detail, the realistic descriptions of the never ending forests and the creatures living there, and the actual story line all combine to make Thieving Forest a great read. I have nothing but good things to say about Thieving Forest. I really enjoyed reading it and it is a pleasure to occasionally find such a great book. I highly recommend it.