Thursday, May 9, 2013

Crimson Sky, By Gretchen Craig

Crimson Sky


Wow.  It has been years since I've read historical fiction this good.  Margaret George, eat your heart out.  It took me a while to read this, but it was sooooo worth it.  I'm glad I didn't make it through this in an evening.  I relished these words.

Ms. Craig has managed to weave a tapestry of life in 1598 New Mexico, with the life of the Keres, Pueblo Indians.  I could go into a synopsis of the story, with lists of characters, and a plot summary and all that.  But I'm not.  What I'm going to say is this:  If powerful storytelling is your thing, if factual research is your thing, if three dimensional characters, both primary and secondary is your thing, if great story structure with interwoven sub-plots and few if any holes is your thing, then Crimson Sky is certainly worth your time.

This is not just a sensitive story about Native Americans, but their struggles through droughts, invaders (both foreign and domestic), and disease.  Ms. Craig shows such an in-depth portrayal of this culture, that I feel like I've been living with them this past week.  My heart has been torn out, put back, and torn out again.  She portrayed both the Native Americans and the Spaniards as humans, inherently weak, yet with an inner strength to survive. 

This story was filled with poignant images, detailed settings, and real people.  My heart ached for the characters, even the antagonists, because Ms. Craig made them REAL.  This is something I struggle with in my own writing, making the bad guys have something likeable in them, because that makes them more realistic.  I'm taking notes on this one.

The story itself was reminiscent of the Odyssey, or Cold Mountain, with a hero and his trek, although it also brings to mind Shakespeare and his star-crossed lovers.  But this one has my favorite: an HYE.  I'm looking forward to my next Gretchen Craig book.

When I was sixteen, my dad and I took a camping trip across Texas, to El Paso, New Mexico, and up to Pueblo, Colorado.  These tiny cliff-dwellings fascinated me in a way that no place else in America has ever captivated me before.  I spent the rest of the summer trying to imagine living inside those tiny apartments (And then I went off to college.  Ha!)  This book was a true treasure for me to find, as it reminded me of this vacation with my dad.  If he were alive today, he would have read it, and enjoyed it immensely.

I loved this book.  Period.  It's now in my top ten.

Kudos, Gretchen Craig.  Thank you for a wonderful read.

At Amazon:

1 comment:

  1. I agree!
    I read this book a year or two ago and still remember it. Vivid writing. I'm definitely a Gretchen Craig fan. Loved her short story collections, especially Looking for Luv.