Set in the northwestern frontier settlements of the American Revolution (1778), Wind Dancer recounts the ill-fated journey of siblings Isabelle and Julian Renoir to deliver books for their parish priest. Their Indian guide disappears, but they meet American spy Samuel Holt, who uses them as a front for his espionage, helps them survive a Shawnee attack, and joins them in captivity. Isabelle and Samuel bond in their trials, while Isabelle’s mother searches for her children and Samuel’s father keeps the Virginian home fires burning for his return.
Anachronisms and clichéd writing mar this fast-paced story of larger-than-life characters and grand destinies. From a “ponytailed” hero to a heroine who moves like “a world-class ballerina,” the cringe factor is high. Worse is the author’s disrespect towards the Shawnee people, who do not share the same degree of humanity bestowed on white characters. Shawnee faces are “totem masks” (long before Lewis and Clark met those far West totem-making people), and they gleefully torture their captives before mourning their dead. No worries. Isabelle plans to face them down with her rendition of “Amazing Grace,” whose lyrics were not yet in print and which was not sung in America for another 60 years.