FicCentral received a free copy of this book from *the author*.
Series: The Wind Whisperer #1
Publisher: Sweet River Romance (Self-Published) on November 11, 2013
Genre(s): Historical Romance (YA)
At fifteen, Anaii is the most important member of her tribe—and the most mysterious. Ever since Anaii can remember, the spirits of the wind have whispered of fertile hunting grounds and imminent enemy attacks. But when her people are ambushed by a brother clan without any apparent cause, the spirits remain eerily silent.
As the village prepares to retaliate, Anaii is pressured by her best friend, Elan, to marry him. It’s an old plea—Elan has spent a lifetime loving her, but Anaii only sees a childhood playmate out of an imposing warrior. Stifled by Elan’s insistence, Anaii escapes into the forest where she meets Jayttin, the beautiful son of the enemy chief.
Enamored by Jayttin’s carefree spirit and hope for peace, she repeatedly sneaks away to be with him, but when her deception is discovered, Elan is devastated. Pledging his lifelong affection, Elan gives her a passionate kiss, and Anaii begins to see her friend in a new light.
While Anaii is tormented over which man she must choose, the wind whispers of a new threat that could destroy both tribes. Only a union will afford a chance at survival, but the reality of that union is based on one thing—which man Anaii chooses to die.
Fifteen year old Anaii has a gift that is both a great blessing and a terrible curse. Her people know that the wind spirits speak, but Anaii is the only one who can understand the wind’s language, as well as speak back. It’s made her father favor her over all others, but it’s also taken her freedom. As long as she can learn from the winds of pending dangers, he demands her constant nearness.
Elan has been close to Anaii since they were babies. They played together and plotted together, and now he wants them to have a future together. But she’s only ever seen him as a best friend, practically a brother, and his none-too-subtle suggestions that they become more are straining their relationship. But other men in the tribe have their eyes on her as well, and it’s only a matter of time before one of them wins her hand, even if he can’t win her heart.
Anaii’s position in the tribe is a tenuous one. She is favored for her abilities, but not adored as a daughter or friend (except by Elan), and those who don’t rely on her for information make no secret of their dislike for her. She’s not required to work as the other women are, and she’s allowed within the council, a place reserved only for male elders of some importance. On the surface, her life seems rather charmed, but she’s left with few friends and no freedom. The importance of her gift makes her indispensable, and when danger looms outside, the village becomes a virtual prison.
But then Anaii comes upon Jayttin in the meadow, and for possibly the first time, she sees a man she can truly imagine marriage with. Only their tribes are at war, their fathers sworn enemies, and if simply knowing Jayttin is treason, running off to marry him would be the highest crime. But then Anaii’s father promises her to Koko, his strongest warrior and a man Anaii would never choose for herself. Desperate to decide her own life, Anaii escapes with Elan only to run into Jayttin, and while her heart is being torn in two, the fates of their villages are left in the balance.
I have to admit that I was on the fence about reading this book. I just wasn’t sure a story about a fifteen year old Native American girl caught in life-or-death love triangle was really my thing. There were just so many ways it could go wrong. It could have been a mockery of Native American history and mysticism. It could have been a terribly unbelievable and frustrating love triangle. It could have been a bunch of made up customs and legends, much like Stephenie Meyer’s false portrayal of the Quileute nation. It could have been the frustratingly immature story of a few kids who created drama out of everything. But instead it was simply extraordinary.
Holle has a knack for description, writing scenes in a way that makes them spring up in full color and texture in the mind’s eye. Within just a few pages, the book I thought I was taking a chance on became a vivid journey into another time, another way of life. Customs and words I’m not familiar with were described and used in a way that somehow made perfect sense, and before I knew it, I was lost in the story. It’s pretty clear that the author has done enough research to not only do justice to the people whose ways she’s borrowed, but also to spin a wholly believable and engaging story.
Anaii’s torn feelings when it comes to Elan and Jayttin are anything but simple. She can’t imagine life without one, even while she’s inexplicably drawn to the other. Love triangles are difficult to get right, often making the correct choice obvious to frustrated readers while the characters stuck in them are foolish and blind. But every time I thought I had this one figured out, I ended up second-guessing myself. Anaii’s conflicting emotions were practically tangible, realistic in their complexity and played out in a way that left me unable to even choose a favorite until it all came together in the end.
Most impressive, though, is Holle’s ability to deliver a young adult story that can thoroughly entertain adults while remaining entirely appropriate for the targeted age group. Where usually I’m warning younger teens away from books purportedly aimed at them despite the inclusion of strictly adult content, The Wind Whisperer should be marketed to everyone from thirteen to eighty years old. There’s so much going on and so many emotions at play that while romance is certainly a big part of things, the more adult scenes some authors would resort to in order to keep readers’ interest aren’t even missed.
And fortunately for all of us, the story doesn’t end with this book. While The Wind Whisperer thankfully does not end on a cliffhanger, it does leave an opening for more, which we’ll see in A New Whisper later this year. In the meantime, if you’re looking for a great new read, look past the unfortunate font choice and pick up The Wind Whisperer. It’s a fantastic way to spend an afternoon.