A Dark and Promised Land

Written by Nathaniel Poole
Review by Jeff Westerhoff

In 1812, the first settlers from Ireland and Scotland arrive in the fertile Red River Valley, situated within the bounds of Rupert’s Land. The Red River colony is viewed by the fur traders as nothing more than a Hudson Bay plot to destroy the Canadian fur trade. As a result, the fur traders of the Northwest Company are determined to fight the settlers in what they see as a power struggle.

Twenty-one-year-old Rose and her father, Lachlan, are shipwrecked in the Hudson Bay before arriving at their destination, the outpost of Fort York. They survive the disaster and are eventually led by a young fur trader, Alexander, a young Metis man, to settle in the Red River colony. They meet hardship and trouble with the Native Americans along the way. Rose has a history of lascivious relationships with men she knew in Ireland, and soon falls in love with Alexander. Before her father’s death on the trip, she promises him she will marry another – Declan MacCormick, who is looking for a new home to settle in the colony. As they get closer to their destination, they come in contact with the antagonistic fur traders.

This book is an entertaining read and well-researched historical fiction. The author masterfully describes life in early 19th-century Western Canada. He describes the Canadian landscape beautifully, evoking the period and place. Fast-paced, the drama and action faced by the travelers compelled me to turn the pages. Few books are written about the Canadian experience during the early 19th century, and this author has done an excellent job in presenting this story to the reading public. A highly enjoyable tale with realistic character presentations.