Friday, December 11, 2009

Review and Book Tour Stop: Wind of the Spirit by J.M. Hochstetler

This is my first time hosting a book tour blog stop, and I couldn't be more thrilled about the book (and author) I am reviewing today!

Wind of the Spirit is the third book in J.M. Hochstetler's American Patriot Series. I read and reviewed the first book, Daughter of Liberty, last month (click here for that review) and was really impressed. I still have to read the second book (it's sitting on my nightstand), but this third book really knocked my socks off. It's even better than Daughter of Liberty.

At the beginning of this third installment in the series, Elizabeth Howard and Jonathan Carleton are in very different places, both literally and figuratively. Elizabeth is still doing work as a spy and courier for General Washington, where she finds herself in the middle of an intense battle at Brooklyn Heights. But her thoughts and her heart remain fixed on Carleton, whom she has not seen in a year. Carleton's assignment to meet with Indian tribes in the West and persuade them to support the Patriot cause did not go as planned, and resulted in his being enslaved by the Seneca, and then rescued and adopted by the Shawnee. He is now known as the warrior White Eagle, and as Shawnee war chief he has been leading his people in attacking white settlers who are invading the Shawnee's ancestral lands. But even as he embraces the Shawnee culture, his heart still aches for Elizabeth. When Elizabeth and their friend Colonel Charles Andrews track down his whereabouts, they all face a sea of conflicting emotions, difficult decisions, and unseen dangers.

This book worked for me on so many different levels. Throughout my reading, I was impressed time after time with the amount of research that had to have gone into this book. The depictions of the Battle of Brooklyn Heights are interesting and personal--as a reader, I felt like I was there. I could feel the characters' fear and anxiety, and I cared about what happened. It's bloody and realistic, and I was riveted. I'm not usually that interested in battle sequences, but Ms. Hochstetler succeeds in keeping me from skimming through those parts as I have done in other books that focus on battles.

The other area that speaks to her in-depth research is her characterization of the Shawnee in this book. Her Shawnee characters are not just peripheral, one-dimentional characters--they are fleshed-out and real, with strong feelings and fears, loves, and hates. In other words, they are really a part of the story. Their part of the story is fictionalized, but many of the events depicted are very similar to events that occurred on the frontier at different times during the Revolution. I do know that the depictions of whites being adopted into the tribe are based in truth (Daniel Boone, for example, was adopted by a Shawnee chief during the war). And certainly any Native American group in close proximity to whites struggled with what aspects of white culture they should adopt and reject, and how they should deal with white settlers encroaching on their land.

Wind of the Spirit gets high marks from me because it is so historically rich and well-researched, but also because I really like the characters. They are complicated and are forced to deal with many heart-wrenching events, but through it all they try their best to keep their faith in God and in each other. The historical information is seamlessly incorporated into what is, at its heart, a love story, and it helps to give the story tension and reality. The descriptions in this book are even better than in the first book, which almost overwhelmed me with description in the beginning. The book is made even more interesting with maps and an appendix that defines some of the terms in the book and explains some of the intricacies of Shawnee culture and society.

Even though Elizabeth and Carleton have been reunited again by the end of this book, the war is far from over and they still have responsibilities that must keep them apart. I will be eagerly waiting for the next book, which Joan is currently working on, titled Crucible of War. In fact, there are four more books planned in this series (for more details, check out her interview with Cheryl at The Book Connection).

This is first-rate historical fiction with Christian themes. I definitely recommend it to those interested in historical fiction set during the American Revolution. If you haven't read the first two installments in this series, Sheaf House has got copies of both on close-out for $4 each.

My rating: ★★★★★ 5/5 stars

Click here to read an excerpt from the book. (PDF file)

And here is the wonderful trailer for Wind of the Spirit:

About J.M. Hochstetler:
J. M. Hochstetler writes stories that always involve some element of the past and of finding home. Born in central Indiana, the daughter of Mennonite farmers, she graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Germanic languages. She was an editor with Abingdon Press for twelve years and has published four novels. Daughter of Liberty (2004), Native Son (2005), and Wind of the Spirit (March 2009), the first three books of the critically acclaimed American Patriot Series, are set during the American Revolution. One Holy Night, a retelling of the Christmas story set in modern times, is the 2009 Christian Small Publishers Fiction Book of the Year and a finalist for the 2009 American Christian Fiction Writers Long Contemporary Book of the Year.
Hochstetler is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Christian Authors Network, Middle Tennessee Christian Writers, Nashville Christian Writers Association, and Historical Novels Society. She and her husband live near Nashville, Tennessee.
You can find Joan online at or at this book’s blog
There are a few more stops on the virtual book tour, so if you're interested in checking them out the schedule is listed at her blog, The American Patriot Series.

**I received a complimentary copy of this book to provide an honest review and participate in this blog tour through Pump Up Your Book Promotion Virtual Book Tours.**


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