SACRIFICE OF THE SAGE HEN
Susie Schade-Brewer, Swimming Kangaroo Books, March 2009, $13.99, pb, 229pp, 97819340441567
Charlie is the daughter of Micah Fremont, a trapper and rugged man of the wilderness who, as an Army scout, fought the Apache. Micah raises Charlie alone after her mother dies giving birth. The two share a life together forming a tight father-daughter bond.
Since the age of seven, Charlie has wanted to move west. She marries a storekeeper at the age of fifteen when her father, anxious to provide security for his daughter, agrees to a barter with Grant West. Charlie has an unconventional spirit and a stubborn streak, making it difficult for her to settle into her role as a wife. She resents the secondary inferior position she holds being a wife and finds her life boring. The pair are polar opposites, as she describes her husband “as adventurous as old hay.” When both her dad and best friend announce their plans to go west on a wagon train, she wants to go as well, but her husband shows no signs of moving.
A 24-year-old Texan named Dirks Braelon has decided to make a clean start and travels to Pleasant Gap in the Kansas Territory. His move is precipitated by the way people look at him with dreaded fear in their eyes. Unfortunately, not long after arriving there, his past as a hired gun catches up with him. He must pick up and move again, but to where?
The novel takes place during the period of the Kansas-Nebraska act. Dirks and Charlie both have dreams, and both need to escape. But how? Charlie’s dad provides a cautionary tale to her in the story about a sage hen. He says, “Never trust your future to nobody else....still sometimes dreams come at a price.”
Charlie is a wonderfully entertaining character very true to herself and believable. The story is an entertaining read that will provide a colorful look at this period of history. -- Wisteria Leigh