Spirit Keeper by K. B. Laugheed

Genre: YA historical
Format read: ebook
Series: The Spirit Keeper book 1
Positive rep: Native American (multiple, unspecified), trans/2 spirit (minor character)
CW: racist slurs, character death, miscarriage, violence, rape, abuse
Rating: planchet-4

Not gonna lie: As much as I enjoyed this book, it was pretty problematic from page one.

The main problem I had with it was the slurs and the way the main character (a 17 year old white girl) looked down on anyone who was different from her. She did grown out of this as her worldview expanded, but there were a lot of questionable decisions made by all the characters.

Katie’s family is abusive. There’s no lost love between her and her mother, and her alcoholic father is hard on all of them. What’s more, her older siblings agree with her mother, that she’s a curse on the family who brings them bad luck.

Her plans to run away, however, are thwarted when a group of Natives attack their Pennsylvania farm, killing most of her family. Katie, her mother, and one of her sisters and one brother are taken captive and sent on a grueling hike, the destination of which is a mystery.

But Katie has attracted the attention of two of their captors, who appear to be from a different tribe. With no idea what they want from her, she struggles to learn their language and in the process a tiny spark of friendship grows between her and one of the men, whom she calls Syawa. When offered the chance to leave her family behind for good and follow Syawa and his companion “Hector” west to their home, Katie finds the decision isn’t all that hard, and she steps into the unknown with only two men–whose true names she can’t even pronounce–to protect her.

Despite all the problematic elements in this book, I did enjoy reading it. There were places, especially near the beginning, where the story lagged and I wasn’t sure I would finish it. However, things did pick up around the 30% mark and I enjoyed the rest of the book, even if I didn’t like everything that happened.

There is, apparently, a second book. I haven’t decided yet if I want to read it as it’s set many years in the future, and there were places where I didn’t care for the writing style, which was in journal entries and summarized or skipped over quite a lot.

It is something you should pick up, however, if you are interested in stories of people adopted into native tribes in the 1700s, or frontier life.