“Joseph Boyden writes with muscle and magic in impossible balance… you will read no better book this year”


This was a brilliant book and now that I have reread through Black spruce I can see all kinds of connections to the it and to Three Day Road.

The novel is set in 16th century Huronia among the Wendat (Huron) people at the time of the French priests coming to Huronia and building St Marie-among-the-Hurons.

Meticulously researched, the novel has 3 narrators representing 3 differing groups – Christophe – the Jesuit priest based on Father Jean de Brebeuf who was ‘martyred’ by the Iroquois, Bird, the Wendat warrior and Snow Falls, his adopted Iroquois daughter. The novel opens with Bird capturing snow Falls after killing her whole family in front of her. She is not happy.

Then story revolves around their gradual thawing of hostilities and the life of the Wendat. I learned so much about the Wendat, the Iroquois and the incursion of the French, who basically destroyed the Wendat people, although not deliberately.

Not at all romanticized, these are real people, not ‘noble savages’ or ‘Indian princesses’ and life was very brutal for these warring tribes. Boyden also has woven the lives of his main Wendat characters and the symbolism of this novel into the other two novels that deal with Xavier Bird, and finally Will and Annie Bird, who are symbolically, spiritually and genetically linked over 600 years. Chi megweetch, Mr. Boyden.


Reviewed by:

Wendy Jackson

Added 2nd July 2015