Publisher: Noontime Books (2015)
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The story is set in 1806 and follows five sisters who are on their own after the recent passing of their parents. The five are faced with the choice to remain and run the family store in the tiny settlement along the edge of Ohio’s Great Black Swamp or pull up stakes and join the youngest sister living with their aunt in Philadelphia.

By the banks of the Great Black Swamp, one woman fights to save her sisters caught between two cultures in Martha Conway’s tale, Thieving Forest.

The world is filled with such events that when the right author develops characters and plunges them into a real-world timeline, history comes alive. Martha Conway has succeeded in doing this in her debut novel, Thieving Forest.

Conway turns the story up a notch early as four of the older girls are kidnapped by a band of Potawatomi Indians who raid their home. Seventeen-year-old Susanna is left behind, and though shaken deeply, quickly comes to her senses and determines to rescue her siblings.

Trust is the theme as the story unfolds. The kidnapping is somewhat of an unexpected occurrence as the family had good relations with the natives. The issue is complex and Susanna finds herself questioning who she can trust along with the sad realization that sometimes people are not always who they claim to be. The sisters are eventually reunited, but as is true in real life, things can never be the same.

Martha Conway paints a stunning portrait of life in the early days of the United States expansion into the West. She has done her research, and it shows as she delves into Native American tribes and the relationship they have with the European settlers.

Detailed descriptions of day-to-day life, including the hardships experienced, are fleshed out with complex and engaging characters. A tale of self-discovery, personal growth, romance, family ties, loyalty and more in this book readers will find hard to put down.