wolf eyes silence
Publisher: Shaggy Dog Press (2014)
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This is a page-turning story of survival that takes place in the Old West. It is a story about one cultures struggle to maintain their identity while the other embarks on expanding their own. “Wolf Eye’s Silence” is the first in a five-book series by Elisabeth Ward. Set in the Wyoming Territory and covering the time period from 1864 to 1880 the story follows two brothers. Deeply entrenched in the interactions between the Cheyenne and the onrush of whites from the East are twelve-year old Samuel Ferguson and his thirteen-year old brother Johnny whom we follow over the course of twenty years.

In the opening pages of the book the brothers are separated from their parents and wagon train which has been attacked by Indians. Their father is killed in the wagon train attack and they watch helplessly as their mother is led away by rope, a captive of the attacking Cheyenne. As first instincts take hold they do what anyway young boy would do: they run and hide. Eventually they are rescued by a US Army scouting party and taken to Fort Teton.

The boys are taken in by the commanding officer, Major Armstrong and his wife, Bessie. The boys however handle the horrible event that they witnessed in opposite ways. Johnny readily adapts, pitches in to assist in day-to-day life, but Sammy becomes withdrawn, barely speaking or interacting with others. Major Armstrong imparts a respect for all inhabitants of the West including the Indians but sprinkles this with caution. Johnny in particular consumes this teaching and eventually joins the US Army.

Sammy however takes a different life path. Major Armstrong begins to realize that in essence Sammy is being kept prisoner in the fort as he has no interest in the military life. Sammy is sent to live outside the fort on a homestead with “Miz” Lizzie Heiter and her son Josh. Lizzie Heiter is a widower who can stand her ground and becomes a central and enjoyable character to this tale.

This engrossing story, like life contains, fleeting moments of joy sprinkled amongst the pain, anguish of losing family, and fear of what lies ahead with the Indian nations. Through it all Elisabeth Ward builds a compelling story that enlightens readers while keeping them engrossed in the daily struggles of an unpredictable and agonizing collision of cultures. Author Elisabeth Ward does an exceptional job bringing the very real struggles of survival to with of the story’s cast of fascinating characters vividly to life in this book.

Sure to satisfy, this well-crafted and fast-paced story is aimed at an older young adult market and those who enjoy a satisfying Old West tale that takes place after the gold-rush and during the building of the First Transcontinental Railroad.