Title: Wind Catcher
Author: Jeff Altabee & Erynn Altabee
Publisher: Evolved Publishing, 2015, 324 pages
Source: Electronic review copy as part of book review blitz
Juliet Wildfire Stone hears voices and sees visions, but she can’t make out what they mean. Her eccentric grandfather tells her stories about the Great Wind Spirit and Coyote, but he might as well be speaking another language. None of it makes any sense.
When she stumbles upon a series of murders, she can’t help but worry her grandfather might be involved. To discover the truth, Juliet must choose between her new life at an elite private school and her Native American heritage. Once she uncovers an ancient secret society formed over two hundred years ago to keep her safe, she starts to wonder whether there’s some truth to those old stories her grandfather has been telling her.
All she wants is to be an average sixteen-year-old girl, but she has never been average-could never be average. Betrayed by those she loves, she must decide whether to run or risk everything by fulfilling her destiny as the Chosen.
First off, though I picked this up thinking it was middle grade, in my opinion it is definitely Young Adult and a bit out of the usual range of my reviews. I give it that rating due to the age of the main characters, the level of violence, and a certain amount of focus on relationships. Secondly, I'll say right here that it wasn't really my kind of story, being both YA and sort of mystical, tapping into an unspecified Native American mythos. That said, it was a good book. The plot is fairly intricate, but doesn't drop threads, and the action is intense.
The book did take just a little longer to get to the point that is ideal. Those opening chapters felt particularly YA to me, focused as they were on Juliet's struggle to fit in at school. And in the end, I have to say that for the most part we don't need that set-up.
I also felt a certain frustration with Juliet's refusal to go to the adults in her life--particularly her grandfather--and just say what's happening and ask the crucial questions. To be sure, I think she's right--she wouldn't have gotten a straight answer out of him. But it might have made some things go more smoothly. Of course, that's probably fairly realistic 16-year-old stuff.
In the end, though I was a bit taken aback by the direction the story went, I think it was well done. The action is a little derivative in some ways (the crystal sword reminded me a bit too much of a light saber), but I appreciate Juliet as a strong female lead who is both fully human and something more.
For fans of YA fantasy/science fiction, who are not put off by using Native American themes in unique ways. I'd say for ages 13 and up.
Full Disclosure: I was given an electronic review copy, but received nothing further from the writer or publisher in exchange for my honest, not necessarily positive, review. The opinions expressed are my own and those of no one else. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
About the Authors: Jeff Altabef & Erynn Altabef
Wind Catcher is a joint project between the father/daughter team of Jeff Altabef and Erynn Altabef. Jeff is an award-winning author with two published thrillers. He has a column on The Examiner focused on writing, and volunteers at the local community college. Erynn is an avid reader, dancer, and community activist who has just earned her Girl Scout Gold Award. When she’s not in high school, she loves reading performing in school musicals, baking, and watching movies with her friends.