Sara Book Publishing, January 2016
About the Book
The past and present collide when a tenacious reporter seeks information on an eleventh century magician...and uncovers more than she bargained for.
In 1939, archaeologists uncovered a tomb at the Northern Arizona site called Ridge Ruin. The man, bedecked in fine turquoise jewelry and intricate beadwork, was surrounded by wooden swords with handles carved into animal hooves and human hands. The Hopi workers stepped back from the grave, knowing what the Moochiwimi sticks meant. This man, buried nine hundred years earlier, was a magician.
Former television journalist Kate Butler hangs on to her investigative reporting career by writing freelance magazine articles. Her research on the magician shows that he bore some European facial characteristics and physical qualities that made him different from the people who buried him. Her quest to discover the magician’s origin carries her back to a time to when the high desert world was shattered by the birth of a volcano and into the present-day dangers of archaeological looting where black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.
I chose this book from a pile I had scheduled to read and figured if it held my interest I’d keep going. Well, I finished the book so it obviously kept me reading. It was set up to alternate from the past (1098 AD Arizona) to the present day. As the reporter tried to investigate the history of the magician, there was a parallel story alongside the present day that showed what happened in the past with the native people settled in that area. I found it interesting how the author sort of gave you a lesson on migration and trying to assess where people groups originated from based on beadwork and artifacts. That was really interesting. There were some colorful characters in both the past and present era. I loved how the author gave the disabled child (who had one leg much shorter than the other) a talent for carving items out of wood and for painting pottery.
The author’s writing was good and nicely descriptive. There were some point of view switches mid scene but they weren’t jarring and didn’t pull me from the story. I found some of the odd incidences with spirits from the past a bit confounding though I think I understood what the author was trying to show (what comes around goes around maybe?). Also, the story had nice pacing for the majority of the book, yet it felt a bit rushed at the very end.
Regardless, I did enjoy the story and especially the fact that most of it occurred in Flagstaff and/or around NAU, where my sons both attended college in the past. The way the author told the story was unique. Since the setting was in Arizona and I’ve visited many of the places in the story, I found it especially fun to read. Some of her descriptions really gave me a sense of time and place, like the sound of the wind whispering through the pines. Ahhh. It’s gorgeous in Northern Arizona.
If you enjoy stories about ancient American cultures and archaeology, you will enjoy this book.