Darkness thrives on deception. It will bait and mislead until it is primed and ready to do its worse.
It is the summer of 1969 in the Blue Ridge Mountains, 16 year old Nettie is struggling with her heartbreak and jealousy after longtime boyfriend Andy asked for more than she was ready to give. Now there is the threat of Anne, like a snake that has been lurking, waiting to take her man! Nettie has her best friend Win to help her see reason, and together they visit Win’s grandmother Nibi, a Monocan Medicine Woman teaching Win the skills of their people. The girls have a project, making their own dream catchers, which takes skill and patience, guided by Nibi. Together, they must find all the supplies needed, and that requires looking near and far within nature, no easy feat. “Nature supplies what you need, not necessarily what you want.” Nettie is restless, agitated with all the problems circling her head. Bad enough Anne wants what is hers, now she must face Pastor Williams, the man just can’t seem to forgive her for her past shenanigans. All she wants is to be baptized like all the other girls but her questioning nature seems to exhaust the Pastor’s good nature, and her belief seems is as shaky as her confusion about her feelings for Andy. Pastor William’s feels she needs more lessons in humility, and practice a lot less profanity. It seems fate is more than willing to test Nettie.
A new love interest enters the scene, that could test the strength of Nettie’s love for Andy. Sex has become a burning desire between the two, but once you take that step, there is no going back. Their love was born in grade school, but they are becoming adults now and shedding the skin of their youth, the wrong step can change everything. Maybe it is Andy’s turn to be jealous, if he even loves her anymore. Is it better to start over with another? Should she concede and just let Anne keep Andy, though she certainly isn’t good enough for him?
It isn’t just dream catchers the wise old woman has planned for the girls, Nibi teaches them survival skills like hunting and how to show reverence for what nature offers. Hiking, camping, the girls need to become one with the land. Something is coming on the waxing moon of August ( the Blood Moon) some human darkness, there is a knowing Nibi has always had, attuned to her surroundings and it will require strength and knowledge for the girls make it through. Deception and evil can hide behind the face of holiness, and no one is more vulnerable than Nibi’s young grandchild Win and her friend Nettie. There are more dangerous and trying times coming that are far bigger than Nettie’s enemy Anne’s antics and manipulations or even her feelings for two young men. Will the friends have the strength to fight it? Can Nibi help save them, despite her aging bones? Nature too can be friend or foe and sometimes those who are meant to lead the young can abuse their power. As they enter the mountains we readers hitch a ride and join the fight against nature, animal and otherwise.
I always love reading mountain fiction and with Nibi’s knowledge of herbs and creatures big and small I felt like I have had my ear pressed to the earth. Most of us are living cut off from the elements and no longer attuned to our surroundings, wouldn’t know nature’s offerings as poisonous or nurturing. Medicine Women have always fascinated me, and Nibi is by far my favorite character. Her grandchild Win is wise and being readied to stand in Nibi’s place, Nettie is just on the cusp of womanhood but still has just the right amount of recklessness and naivete. Dangers for young women are wildly different than the threat of the elements in the wild, and those in power know all too well how to manipulate and confuse a girl with their own doubt. I like the turn the story took. While the relationship between Nettie and Andy are important, the meat of the story is the relationship the girls have with Nibi and of course, the power of their own strength.
Publication Date: August 20, 2019
She Writes Press