I found myself drawn into this world and swept away by it's mystic. It combines some of the best elements of history and fiction. I'm not one to read historic fiction. So I really don't think of it as such. To me it was a historic like fiction that had me entranced from beginning to end. I don't want to say very much, for fear that I may say something to reveling about it.However, I will say it's truly a great book.
A retelling of Beauty and the Beast set during the French and Indian War, an interesting blend of history and magic.
During the height of the French-Indian War, Isabella and her father, who is a doctor with the British army, are making their way to a new fort through the New York wilderness. In the meantime, Wusamequin, a native-American brave who is looking to revenge the death of his wife and child has a vision of soldiers crossing through the lands of his people. In a fit of rage Wusamequin leads a party of warriors against the English.
Impressed with the way Isabella fights back, he spares her life and takes her into his home as his slave, though soon both of them begin to realize that they are becoming much more than servant and master.
I liked the idea behind the story of Spirited, I love stories where Native American tribes take in settlers and the settlers learn that all they have been taught about "Indians" is wrong. It's a classic theme I know, but I can't help really liking those kinds of stories anyway. The hitch with Spirited however, is that Nancy Holder decided to insert lots of different kinds of magic and folklore into the plot.
For example, Isabella has little fairy beings come to her while she is a prisoner in camp and they help her learn the language and keep her safe from those in the tribe who would do her harm. Now, some little touches of magic in a story are fine with me. I mean, it did take Spirited from the "historical fiction" category into fantasy, but Holder took it to the next level.
Once vortexes started to open and Isabella and Wusamequin started fighting off evil spirits in the dream realm Spirited jumped from "interesting" and into the ridiculous. I get that this was supposed to be a YA book, but really? It's like I was reading two different books. Spirited started off as a great historical fiction with a little native magic throw in and became a sci/fi fantasy that happened to be set in the 1800s. It reminded me of that episode of "The Big Bang Theory" where Sheldon is walking around a Renaissance fair dressed as Spock. The two just did not go together.
To top it off, in the epilogue Holder says that Spirited was a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I must be a bigger idiot that I thought, because I totally didn't get that at all. In fact, I was baffled when I read that last part. If I flip through Spirited page by page, yeah OK, I can kind of see the similarities, but a retelling? That's stretching it. A lot.
I guess my conclusion is I didn't get Spirited. The plot left me confused and kind of upset at the end, I found the characters to be very one-dimensional even for a YA book, and I put down Spirited feeling very unsatisfied. I have a couple more of these "retelling" books in my pile, but after this one I might shove them towards the bottom.
A very generous 1 1/2 stars.