This was wonderful! Beautifully written, great characterizations, and, oh god, just so good.
The story is told by Katie in the style of a memoir. What I thought was really well done was that it was written in her voice. And someone from Katie's background, having had an indifferent education, would not sound polished and prim, and Katie doesn't. You can hear the roughness of her upbringing in her speech.
It's not a very fast moving book, and yet it never feels slow. I was surprised that the beginning, which was light on dialogue as Katie didn't speak the same language as her captors, didn't feel too slow or heavy. Even as she just narrated her observations I was fully engaged.
There's a little bit of a spiritual element to it as one of the Native Americans that captures Katie is considered a Holyman and its believed he has visions (often through dreams). It is his vision for finding the "Creature of Fire and Ice" that leads him on a two-year Journey to find Katie. Now among certain Native American tribes, dreams were a means of gaining wisdom and guidance. Some believed in dream spirits or some would go on dream quests. So the idea of this Journey based on Sawya's dream it entirely plausible in this context. Where it became a little something more though is that later Katie would have dreams that were basically vague premonitions of the future, or memories of someone else's past. Normally I'm wary of anything supernatural being inserted into my history, but occasionally it can be pulled off. This is one of those occasions! It wasn't heavy-handed, but smoothly incorporated into the story. In fact, at times, Katie would even find ways to convince herself of logical excuses as to why/how she would know things thereby allowing the reader to believe the spiritual explanation or not.
I really enjoyed learning about different Native American customs, because as Katie is thrust into this new world and has to learn their way of life, so is the reader given an education about Native America practices, traditions, behavior, beliefs, etc. And it was all fascinating. And didn't read like a history lesson which can sometimes happen.
Anyway, much of the strength lay in the development of the characters. I don't want to give anything away so I won't go into details, but it was really interesting, and it felt authentic, seeing these characters change and grow. Each of them experienced something new and grew and it was wonderfully done.
The book was definitely left somewhat open for a sequel, but in this case I didn't mind it. Normally when an author sets up a sequel I am slightly infuriated, but although I know there will be a sequel (as they never actually get to the end of their Journey), this book still felt finished. I wasn't left with all these dangling questions. The author provided the amount of closure that I need from a book to leave me feeling satisfied, but yet I know that a sequel must follow and I'm looking forward to it! It was perfect.