REVIEW: Satanta’s Woman by Cynthia Haseloff
Dear Ms Haseloff,
Years ago I read the DIK review at AAR for this book. I was interested and purchased it. I read it and was blown away by it. I contacted you and you were gracious enough to email with me a little about this book and others you’d written. I’ve always meant to go back and write a review for it and now’s the time.
I love books which make me want to know more about the people and times presented in them. I knew you had based this on the real raid carried out by Kiowa and Comanche warriors against settlers on the Elm Creek in Texas that took place in 1864 while most of the soldiers and young men from the area were back east fighting the Civil War. I didn’t realize you had changed the names of the main characters and assume this was to allow for a little artistic license in telling the story. It seems that the basic facts are the same. The raid was launched on the few settlers remaining in the area, some managed to fight the Indians off while others, including most of the Chastain (Carter) family, were either killed or taken captive. Adrianne and her two granddaughters reached the Kiowa camps only to be separated later on. Adrianne was eventually rescued and reunited with the older child, who had already been returned, while the younger child was most likely raised to be a Kiowa and stayed with them for her entire life. What is left to speculation is what happened during those months of captivity and this is where you tell your story. It’s often one of brutal violence and yet….it is also filled with moments of beauty, honor, humor and the confusion of a People watching their way of life disappear forever.
The book is written with beautiful, spare prose. The opening sequences are riveting. I can feel the settlers’ panic as they whip their lathered horses for one more burst of speed to reach safety as 300 screaming Kiowas and Comanches bear down on them. You don’t have to spell out the horror they know awaits them if they don’t make it. Your selective use of descriptions fills us in on what did happen to those who didn’t make it without going into too graphic detail. Though some readers with squeamish stomachs might want to skim parts of the story. Your attention to historical detail is, as always, impeccable. And you manage to convey the facts about daily living on the frontier as well as in a Kiowa camp beautifully. You also have a gift for showing both the white and Indian points of view.
Since the book is more historical fiction than romance, I was prepared for the bittersweet ending the first time I read it. The second and third times, I knew what would happen, who would die, how characters would be changed. Even though I knew all this, I was still drawn back into the story, still didn’t want parts to end, still cried when certain things happened. It’s a wonderful book and well worth sitting down to savor.