Pacific Northwest Book Review
"Lives of the Spirits"
By John Pappas
© 2016 John Pappas
Before the famous 1804 expedition by Lewis and Clark, before the trading posts and maps and roads divided the Pacific Northwest and white men renamed everything, indigenous people lived off the land, fished the rivers and traded with neighboring tribes. Spirits spoke to people in dreams and guided their actions.
All this was about to change as white men from Canada, the eastern U.S. and Europe arrived in cloud ships, bringing with them foreign ideas, mysterious diseases and advanced weaponry.
In author John Pappas’ fourth book “Lives of the Spirits,” the sequel to his earlier novel “When Wolf Comes,” a young white man from Boston named Adian teams up with his Indian wife Neveah, an escaped Virginian slave named Josiah and several Indian translators from different tribes to canoe 200 miles up the Columbia River on a mission of trade and exploration.
Along their journey they encounter friendly and unfriendly natives, learn proper tribal trading etiquette, respect for the land and local customs, and how to fight against the fear of the unknown.
“Lives of the Spirits” is a work of fiction based on historical facts that transports the reader to a land of untouched beauty during a time when spirit animals and spirit people influenced our actions and we relied on our wits and quick reflexes to survive hidden dangers of every kind.
Pappas takes us on a journey from the Chinook camp near the mouth of the Big River far upstream to the Wishram camp to spend the winter. Forever outsiders because of their foreign appearances and heritage, Adian and Josiah form a mutually beneficial partnership that turns their differences into spiritual powers.
When Neveah and several others at the camp are kidnapped by raiders, Adian must gather a rescue party of brave warriors to save her. Pappas fills these pages with haunting imagery in action-packed scenes bursting with strategy, suspense and spirituality. The warriors are victorious, welcomed home to the Wishram camp and celebrated as heroes among many neighboring tribes.
Eventually the horror of the pox reaches the camp and the small group must brave the harrowing journey back down Big River during the unpredictable spring snowmelt, where they face new dangers and encounter old enemies.
Reviewed by John Morgan, 9/18/2016