Dancing Cat is despised by her tribe for circumstances that she had no control over. Stripped of her prized role as the tribe's messenger and condemned to a life of taunts and cruelty, she decides to peek into her tribe's sacred bundle to see what her future holds. But she doesn't get what she bargained for. Rather than seeing what is to become of her, for better or worse, she angers her powerful ancestor Small Tree. Dancing Cat is cursed by Small Tree and finds herself transported into the midst of enemy territory . . . transformed into a man. She is discovered by a kind man named Bearclaw, who nurses her back to health and treats her with a kindness she had forgotten humans were capable of, but she remains in a state of constant confusion and terror, for she knows she cannot evade her tribe or the truth about her true identity forever.
Author Krista D. Ball contacted me about doing an early review of her soon to be released novella Harvest Moon, and I am so glad she did! (Thanks, Krista! :D) I enjoyed this well-written novella very much. In fact, my only disappointment was that it ended after only thirty four pages. I have read a few gender switch tales before, and usually I dislike them just because the premise is used as more of a plot gimmick than anything. Not so in Harvest Moon. Dancing Cat's already miserable circumstances are further exacerbated by her punishment and the psychological trauma that she endures as consequence are not skimmed over, which makes for a suspenseful and psychologically fascinating read.
I also liked the unique atmosphere this novella offers. I have always been interested in Native Americans, so I enjoyed this tale about the First Natives of Canada. The tribe's culture is vividly portrayed throughout the story, yet the description never bogs the narrative down. Instead, the atmosphere greatly enhances the story and provides a nice change from the Northern European setting of much fantasy, though I enjoy those, too.
As much as I enjoyed all aspects of this novella, the best part for me was the protagonist Dancing Cat. I am often frustrated by female main characters. So often they are either completely unbelievable or utterly unlikeable. Dancing Cat is neither of these characterizations. She is sympathetic and likable but never glamorized or glorified. Even better, she shines as a complex, intriguing character, which is hard to create in so few of pages.
Harvest Moon is a fascinating, well-crafted novella that delves into the nature of identity, rejection, and friendship. Fantasy fans will enjoy this story, and fans of historical fiction will relish the vivid historical details. You guys will need to be a little patient before you can get your hands on a copy, though the wait will be more than worth it. Harvest Moon will be early released as an e-book by MuseItUp Publishing on October 1st, 2010, with the official release in December. You can read an excerpt from the first chapter on Krista's blog.
Next Week: Maybe W. Somerset Maugham's The Painted Veil but more probably Dodie Smith's I Capture The Castle.
This Week in Literary History: 14 June 1811: Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of Uncle Tom's Cabin, is born in Litchfield, Connecticut. Stowe's classic abolitionist novel was an influential text in the pre Civil War anti-slavery debate and is still considered a classic. I wish I could add some personal anecdote about the book, but I have never actually read this novel. I plan to remedy that. :D