The three most important parts of a book are: a well constructed plot, compelling characters, and a satisfying conclusion.

Thursday, February 19, 2015


Publisher:  Noontime Books
Release Date:  August 15, 2014
Pages: 416
Genre: Historical Fiction
Reviewed By WC
About the Book: 
On a humid morning in 1806, seventeen-year-old Susanna Quiner watches helplessly from behind a tree while a band of Potawatomi Indians kidnaps her four older sisters from their cabin. With both her parents dead from Swamp Fever and all the other settlers out in their fields, Susanna rashly decides to pursue them herself. What follows is a young woman's quest to save her sisters and the parallel story of her sisters' new lives.

Over the next five months, Susanna tans hides in a Moravian missionary village; escapes down a river with a young native girl; discovers an eccentric white woman raising chickens in the middle of the Great Black Swamp; and becomes a servant in a Wyandot village longhouse. The man who loves her, Seth Spendlove, is in pursuit after he realizes that his father was involved in the kidnapping. Part Potawatomi himself but living a white man’s life, Seth unwittingly sets off on his own quest to reclaim his birthright. He allies himself with a Potawatomi named Koman, one of the band of men who originally abducted the Quiner sisters, but who now wishes to make his own retribution. Together they canoe through the Black Swamp and into enemy territory looking for Susanna, and while they travel Koman teaches Seth about their shared heritage.

Fast-paced and richly detailed, Thieving Forest explores the transformation of all five sisters as the Quiners contend with starvation, slavery, betrayal, and love. It paints a fascinating new picture of pioneer life among Native American communities, while telling a gripping tale of survival.

Review by WC:  Thieving Forest is a splendid page turner, filled with vibrant and resourceful characters who struggle for meaning in the Ohio Valley in 1806.

Set in the Black Swamp region of Ohio, bounded on the west by Fort Wayne and on the east by Lake Erie, the five Quiner sisters experience the horrors of kidnapping and the desolation of the dark wilderness. Led by the resilient and persevering teenage sister Susanna, who forages her way through the Thieving Forest to rescue sisters Naomi, Penelope, Aurelia, and Beatrice, this enticing tale captures the imagination and delves deeply into travails of wilderness survival.

Highly recommended for those of us who still harbor an appreciation of what our ancestors went through to build this great nation of ours.  5 Stars

About the Author: Martha Conway's first novel, 12 BLISS STREET, was nominated for an Edgar Award for Best First Novel. Her short fiction has been published in The Iowa Review, The Carolina Quarterly, The Quarterly, The Massachusetts Review, The Mississippi Review, Folio, and other journals. She has taught fiction at UC Berkeley Extension and the Online Writer's Studio at Stanford University, and is a recipient of a California Arts Council Fellowship for Creative Writing. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, she is one of seven sisters. She currently lives in San Francisco.