Into the Prairie
This is the third installment in Bittner’s Westward America series, which follows the fortunes of the fictitious Wilde family. Reading the first two books isn’t necessary, as the author puts an abundance of background information into the first chapter in an awkward conversation between two brothers who should already know the details they impart to one another.
Young Jonah and Sadie Wilde leave Ohio in 1810 to stake out land in the Indiana territory. The prairie is difficult to farm, the weather harsh, but their love is binding. The territory is in dispute with the local Shawnee and other tribes, who insist the treaty giving it to the white man was illegally obtained. The great Indian chief, Tecumseh, peacefully tries to recover this land for his people, but is thwarted by the white governor, William Henry Harrison. Harrison promises the settlers that they will be safe from Indian raids. The pace picks up when Sadie is kidnapped by the Indians and forced to become the wife of a young warrior, after believing her husband murdered. Bittner balances the story by also telling it from the Indian’s point of view.
Bittner’s prose is simple and unadorned as if written for a younger audience. She tends to repeat information several times. There are minor inconsistencies in character names and dates. But those who prefer a light, fast read will enjoy it, especially the second half with Sadie’s struggles at the Indian camp.