Book Review

RIDGELINE by Michael Punke

I received a complimentary copy of RIDGELINE by Michael Punke from Henry Holt & Company.

Rating: 4 / 5

RIDGELINE is set in 1866 while the US is still recovering from the Civil War. Moving westward, the army has taken up residence in the land that belongs to the Native American tribes. Though they claim to have permission, the truth is that the permission came from some tribes who aren’t actually local to the land they elect to build their new fort on.

The book follows multiple POVs including Crazy Horse who is among those working to dissuade the US Army from taking their land, several members of the US Army, and the wife of one of the lieutenants intent on stamping down the local population. The book begins as the battle between parties is about to hit its peak, then takes the reader back in time about six months to see how this came to be.

This really was an interesting fictional look at very real events from history. It is clear that the author put a lot of time and energy into the research to flesh out these characters. He delivers many conflicting viewpoints from those in charge determined to build the fort and stand against the local’s outcry to those who wonder what they are doing to the natural beauty of the land so long held by the Native American tribes they are warring against.

I really enjoyed getting the perspective of Crazy Horse. In the early chapters, he is introducing his younger brother to the ways of their tribe from hunting to some of their ceremonies. This gives the reader some insight without it feeling like an info dump. I also really liked getting the perspective of one of the army wives. Her portions of the book are mostly delivered through journal accounts – both the ‘proper’ journal wherein she describes things as she is probably meant to and her really personal journal where she addresses it as a friend and really spills her true feelings about her difficult way of life.

The author notes in the end were also very interesting, discussing the characters he focused on and how much was actually known about them from the historical record. This isn’t a time that I have read a lot about and I appreciated the insights the author shared.

I think this would be a great read for any fan of historical fiction from this time period. RIDGELINE is out on 6/1/2021!

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