The Steep & Thorny Way by Cat Winters
Published by Amulet Books
Publication Date : March 8th, 2016
Available as Hardback & eBook – 352 Pages
Source : Library
Scene: Oregon, 1923.
Hanalee Denney, daughter of a white woman and an African American man
Hank Denney, her father—a ghost
Greta Koning, Hanalee’s mother
Clyde Konig, doctor who treated Hank Denney the night he died, now Hanalee’s stepfather
Joe Adder, teenage boy convicted of accidentally killing Hank Denney
Members of the Ku Klux Klan
Townspeople of Elston, Oregon
Question: Was Hank Denney’s death an accident…or was it murder most foul?
This was a solid 4 *s for me. It had a unique and intriguing story and minus one or two things I found just a touch odd I really loved it.
The setting was one I don’t get to read enough about. It’s set in a 1920’s small town in Oregon where the racial tensions are simmering just below the surface. This was cleverly done, you almost don’t see that racial tension – you’re looking for it – and you almost don’t see it till about half way through. I enjoyed that a lot, especially since our character seemed a bit oblivious to it as well. However that was one of the things that I found odd. I wasn’t completely convinced she would find things that peaceful as a half black girl.
The overall atmosphere, which seemed authentic to the time really embraced the little magical touches that were sprinkled in. There is a ghost, a frankly kind of frightening potion, and just a feeling in the air there that leant itself well to a sprinkle of magic. Besides the magic, the atmosphere and overall painting of the setting meant I could easily see what was happening and Cat Winters occasional use of flowery language didn’t detract but enhanced (as it should). It was a very clear and very visual novel for me.
I really enjoyed Hanalee, Joe, and most of characters as well. Everyone had a distinct voice and I could clearly remember each individual. It seemed to me that everyone was faulty, everyone had made some bad decision and they lived with that. My one other tiny qualm was with Hanalee’s handling of her relationship with Joe. It was probably meant to be extremely awkward (all things considered about her and Joe, especially for that time, that is completely expected) but I still stopped at one point and gave the book a funny look. Otherwise I enjoyed them, I enjoyed the lack of a romance and frankly wish we had more things like that. A friendship rather than a relationship is very refreshing.
Overall I really liked it. If you want something historical, fast, and with just a touch of magic I’d say try this one. It is definitely worth picking up (It’s also just a beautifully printed book as well. I think I may get this one for my personal library).