It Sleeps In Me

Written by Kathleen O'Neal Gear
Review by Nina de Angeli

Is it witchcraft or delusional sexual obsession? Set in about 1400 CE, in a pre-Columbian Mississippian culture on Lake Jackson in present-day northern Florida, this off-beat erotic historical keeps the reader guessing. Sora, the beautiful young chieftess of Black Falcon Nation, is confused. Her beloved ex-husband Flint has just died violently, but his shadow-soul may be in possession of his best friend Skinner’s equally handsome body. Sora, born to rule in the matriarchal elite of her tribe, is both narrator and protagonist. At thirty-two, she bears great responsibility for deciding her clan’s future. She is under pressure to wage war on other clans, to maintain her tribe’s wealth and trading supremacy. The council of elders, including Sora’s present husband, is divided. Yet she repeatedly risks her position in life to engage in forbidden sexual gymnastics with Skinner/Flint, graphically described. Woven into the main plot, murders among the ruling clan families make the story seem like a thriller.

Gear is co-author of the monumental First North Americans series, and It Sleeps in Me is distinguished by the same meticulous and wide-ranging research. With great skill, the author weaves in tribal beliefs like the three souls that are released at death, and vivid details of daily life like the shimmering rain cloaks of goose feathers and the healing rituals used for mental illness. The weakest part of the book for me is the political sub-plot, which is overwhelmed by the intensity of the repetitive eroticism and the mystery thriller aspect. Includes historical note, map, and bibliography.