Book Reviews: Windigo Island and Manitou Canyon

Hey, everyone. I’m back to reading William Kent Kruger’s Cork O’Connor series. Not sure what I’ll do when I finish them all, as I have enjoyed most of the books immensely.

I delayed reading Windigo Island for a few weeks (you’ll see why in my review) but I’m glad I continued the series. If I haven’t said it before, I love the character Henry Meloux. We all could learn something from his wisdom. Somehow, I picture Henry looking like Chief Dan George who appeared in the Clint Eastwood movie The Outlaw Josey Wales, along with several other films.

Once I finished Windigo Island, I was eager to move on to the next in the series, Manitou Canyon. Both reviews follow.

My Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Windigo Island is the fourteenth installment of the Cork O’Connor series. Tamarack County, the previous book, was such a disappointment I hesitated to start this one. However, I’m committed to finishing the series. And I was pleasantly surprised.

Krueger’s writing talent once again shows. The matter of sex trafficking is a difficult one—another reason I hesitated—but the author handled the subject well. No graphic details, yet he calls the reader’s attention to a problem many parts of our country face.

Cork and his oldest daughter, Jenny, travel to the Ojibwe reservation of Bad Bluff at the request of a missing girl’s family. The body of the friend whom she disappeared with washed up on Windigo Island in Lake Superior.

Cork and Jenny, along with Henry Meloux and a new character, Daniel English set out to find the missing girl and the perpetrators of a sex trafficking ring. What they encounter is evil comparable to the legendary Windigo.

The book was in three parts—first from Cork’s point of view, then Jenny’s, then back to Cork’s. Honestly, there were times I wanted to slap some sense into Jenny. But her character grew as she realizes not everyone’s life is picture perfect like the one she has in Aurora, Minnesota. Henry, as usual, shows his ageless wisdom. Cork also shows a side we don’t often see, but over the course of each book, his character has also grown.

The book wraps up with a satisfying conclusion and a hint of a future romance for Jenny. An easy four stars for this one.

My Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

November has come to Northern Minnesota and Cork O’Connor has the blues. He lost his father, a good friend, and his wife in the month of November. Is it any wonder he dreads this time of year?

Even his oldest daughter’s upcoming wedding can’t pull him out of his gloom.

When two siblings approach him to continue the investigation into their grandfather’s disappearance in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, he agrees to take the case. He, along with the missing man’s granddaughter, goes into the wilderness area, hoping to find something missed by search and rescue. And Cork finds more than he bargained for.

As his family anxiously awaits his return, they begin to investigate. And when they do, they aren’t sure who to trust.

There are familiar characters, Jenny, Stephen, Rose, Rainy, and my favorite, Henry Meloux. O’Connor introduces us to a new character, Rainy’s Aunt Leah, who adds her own bit of mystery.

I found this book hard to put down. The suspense builds and wraps up in a satisfying ending. In my opinion, this is one of the better books in the Cork O’Connor series.

Needless to say, Krueger has become one of my favorite authors.

Book Review – The Necromancer’s Daughter

Happy first Tuesday of October. Time for another book review. I’m a bit amazed that my reading has actually slowed since retirement, so I didn’t post a review last week. Today’s is for a book written by friend, fellow author, and Story Empire contributor, D. Wallace Peace.

I haven’t read a lot of fantasy in the last few years, but this one had me spellbound.

My Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I love books with vivid descriptions and imagery. I also love character-driven fiction. The Necromancer’s Daughter gives both. From the opening paragraph to the final line, I was immersed in the pages of this book.

Barus is a healer and necromancer who is summoned by the King of Verdane when the queen is having complications with childbirth. Despite this, both the queen and the child die. Barus takes the infant’s body back to his lowly cottage, breaths life back into her, and raises her as his own.

Nineteen years later, she discovers the identity of her birth father, and he wants to take her back to the castle as heir to the throne. But members of the Red Order don’t want this to happen. The king’s entourage is attacked, he is killed, and Aster flees for her life.

What follows is a journey to the country of Blackrock to seek help from her birth mother’s family. Accompanied by two unlikely companions—Joreh son of the Vicar of the Red Order, and Teko, a cutter from a neighboring country.

The book has plenty of conflict, betrayal, devotion, and love all woven together into a beautifully written story. A resounding five stars.

Not since Tolkein have I been so caught up in a world of fantasy. I highly recommend this one!

Book Review – Return to Deadhorse Canyon

Hey, Readers. Happy Tuesday. In 2021, I read a book co-written by Marcha Fox and Pete Risingsun titled The Curse of Deadhorse Canyon. I was intrigued not only by the story, but Pete Risingsun is a member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe.

I’ve been interested in learning about Native American culture for a while, so I enjoyed learning a bit about them. (As many of you know, I’ve since been reading a series of books that features Native Americans.)

I purchased the second book Return to Deadhorse Canyon when it was released late last year and it just now came to the top of my TBR list. It didn’t disappoint.

My Review:

Return to Deadhorse Canyon is the second book of a trilogy. The action picks up where the first book left off.

Sara Reynolds is determined to carry out her husband’s wishes to expose corrupt government officials. After she goes on television, her life is in more danger. Someone doesn’t want the truth told.

Charlie Littlewolf also wants to avenge his friend’s death. He takes a job with an oil drilling firm, even though he feels they are violating the earth. An accident leaves him severely injured, and he returns to his Cheyenne family in order to heal and learn the ways of his people.

Like the first book, I enjoyed the parts that told of Native American customs. The action is also well-paced throughout most of the book. I did feel it bogged down a bit on the scenes with Sara’s astrologer.

The only other issue I found was the use of regional dialect by two characters from Texas. I’ve lived here all my life and never heard the term “y’all” used when speaking to one person. It was confusing to me.

Other than those two items, this was an enjoyable read. I don’t normally like serial fiction—preferring books of a series have a satisfactory conclusion—but I look forward to the conclusion in book three. There’s also an interesting twist at the end of this one that further entices me to read more.

You can purchase a copy of Return to Deadhorse Canyon by clicking the link above. If you haven’t read the first book, I highly recommend doing so first.

Book Review – The Haunting of Chatham Hollow @StaciTroilo @MaeClair1

Hey, Readers. Last week I was privileged to host Staci Troilo on the first stop of the promotional tour for The Haunting of Chatham Hollow. The book was co-authored by Mae Clair. Today, I’m delighted to share my five-star review.

If you’d like to follow the tour stops, just click on either author’s name above. Both post links on their blogs for the daily stops.

My Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Love of Money…

I’ve read and enjoyed several books by both authors, so you can bet I was eager to get a copy of this one. The Haunting of Chatham Hollow didn’t disappoint.

Ward Chatham, founder of Chatham Hollow was a bitter and evil man. It’s said the love of money is the root of all evil, and that’s certainly the case with him. When he died there were rumors he had hidden all his gold somewhere within his home, Chatham Manor.

Almost a century after his death, the wife of Chatham’s mayor invites several people, including two mediums, into their home (Chatham Hollow) to conduct a séance. Charlatan Benedict Fletcher attempts to summon Ward Chatham’s ghost. He along, with everyone present, got more than they bargained for and left the citizens of Chatham Hollow believing Ward had cursed the town.

Fast forward to the present day when the renowned television show Spirit Search comes to town during the annual founders day celebration for a reenactment of the séance. Will Chatham’s ghost reappear?

Set in two different centuries, the dual timeline flowed seamlessly. The setting and descriptions made me feel like I was in Chatham Hollow—both past and present. The characters are well-developed. It takes skill for two people to co-author a book. These authors certainly know their craft. If you enjoy a good ghost story, I highly recommend this book.

As you can see, I loved The Haunting of Chatham Hollow. If you haven’t purchased a copy, you can do so by clicking on the link above. You might also want to check out some of their other books. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

August Book Reviews

Hey, readers. During the month of August, I read several books. Since I’ve been on a blog break, I’m playing catch-up with the reviews.

The Storm Girl

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I enjoy dual timeline books and The Storm Girl didn’t disappoint. The story alternates between two main characters—Esther in the 1700s, and Millie in present day.

After her divorce, Millie Grafton buys a historical home that was once a tavern. The house needs renovations, so she hires contractor Nick Marshall. They discover a hidden passage behind the fireplace that leads to a hidden cellar and a partially collapsed tunnel.

Millie likes Nick, but her nosy neighbor, Sharon, is quick to point out that Nick’s father was once involved in some illegal activity and even hints they may even be connected to drug trafficking. When the body of a young woman is found in a nearby marsh, Sharon insinuates Nick’s family might have been involved.

In the 1700s, Esther helps her ailing father run a tavern. They also help smuggle goods and allow them to be stored in the hidden cellar. When a battle breaks out between the revenue officers and free traders, Esther and her family are caught in the middle.

The characters were well developed, and the author did a good job at keeping readers guessing whether some of them were good or evil. I also liked the way she tied the 1700s mystery to the present day.

Purchase Link

Flight of Dreams

Rating: 5 out of 5.

For years, I had heard stories of the Hindenburg Disaster. I’d even listened to the clip of Herbert Morrison’s live broadcast and eyewitness account as the airship exploded and burned within seconds. Before reading Ariel Lawhon’s Flight of Dreams, I couldn’t name a single passenger or crew member.

Told from the point of view of five people—the stewardess, the navigator, the journalist, the cabin boy, and the American, the book covers the story from the day everyone boarded the airship, to the fatal crash, and the aftermath.

There has been much speculation and many hypotheses as to what caused the zeppelin to incinerate. The author takes factual events and blends them with a fictional account of what might have happened.

Lawhon made the characters come alive, and I wanted to know more about them. For the first time, these people became real to me. They were no longer a list of passengers and crew who were part of the disaster that brought an end to air travel by dirigible. For readers wanting to know more, check out the links the author provided in her notes at the end of the book.

The book started slow, but the pace picked up mid-way through. At the end, it was hard to put down. I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.

Purchase Link

Last Summer Boys

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Last Summer Boys is a delightful coming-of-age story set during the summer of 1968. Having grown up in that time period, reading this book brought back lots of memories from the late 1960s.

Jack Elliott doesn’t want his older brother to go to war. Together with his city cousin, Frankie, Jack devises a plot that he believes will keep Pete from being drafted. Along the way, the two of them along with Jack’s two brothers encounter adventures, help a neighbor who is being harassed by a motorcycle gang, and set out to find a lost fighter jet.

There is also a greedy land developer who is determined to take their parent’s land. All this makes for an interesting summer.

I would have given the book five stars, except for a couple of historical inaccuracies, but even those didn’t keep me from enjoying the story. This is a great debut novel for author Bill Rivers.

Purchase Link

Tamarack County

Rating: 3 out of 5.

After coming off what I feel is the high point of the series, Trickster’s Point, I looked forward to Tamarack County. However, it was a big disappointment.

The book started well and had promise, but this clearly isn’t Krueger’s best work. It’s almost as if he threw this one together. The plot seemed contrived, the characters were rather flat, and missing was the author’s usual vivid descriptions of the Minnesota wilderness. (Yes, we know the winters are cold, but…)

Also, Cork needs to get his act together with the women in his life. He apparently made his decision at the end of the book, which by the way, seemed abrupt.

I’ll continue with the series because I know Krueger is capable of MUCH better writing. Clearly, this wasn’t his best work.

Purchase Link

That wraps it up for this week’s reviews. I plan to revert to a weekly review schedule next Tuesday.