A land of Native American myths and legends is under siege by a killing wind. Bear Girl, shape-shifting daughter of healers, must leave the land she knows to venture into the mortal world to solve a mystery whose origins lay buried in a three-hundred-year-old tragedy.
This is the second book I’ve read, also the second book published, by Corie J. Weaver. The first being Coyote’s Daughter and, as with Coyote’s Daughter, Bear’s Heart is a quick read with likeable characters, an interesting setting, and deeper messages.
Unlike Coyote’s Daughter however, I didn’t eat it up as quickly as the first, but I still felt the need to read Bear’s Heart. I put this down to the language. It’s not completely different, but Bear Girl comes from an alternate world and of course her culture and how she speaks will be reflected in how the story is worded. In a way this is a good thing because it gives you more of a feeling of where she comes from and the differences between our world and hers. By the end of it though, regardless of language and wording (I want to add here too that it’s not a huge difference. When I mention language and wording, it’s not going crazy like The Lord of the Rings for instance, not even a quarter of that, but it is a subtle difference that does colour perception), I was very taken by the story of Bear Girl’s adventure and her people’s plight.
I found it refreshing and intriguing to be able to follow a story from Bear Girl’s perspective. I enjoyed Maggie’s view (from Coyote’s Daughter) and seeing the world through her eyes in the first book, but Bear Girl piqued my interest and I wanted to know more about her, her way of living, and more about the world around her. I wasn’t disappointed and now it happens that I want to learn more about other characters, mostly Jack, from their point of view. Going from Coyote’s Daughter to Bear’s Heart makes me wonder what the next one, I’m hoping there’s a next one, will be and I’m actually crossing my fingers for a Jack book. I won’t say any more on the Jack subject in case I give too much away, but I’m sure if you’ve read Coyote’s Daughter (or decide to pick it up), you’ll be curious about him too.
When it comes to reading audiences, although Bear’s Heart is young adult fiction, I would say it’s more of the middle grade tip of the YA scale. That’s not something to be turned off by if you’re an adult, Harry Potter started out as MG material and look where that went. I feel it’s important to note Bear’s Heart is far more toned down compared to a lot of YA out there. I believe this is another reason I enjoyed it so much, for the fact the story is young adult fantasy, but without the love plots and extra complications that a few years in age will bring. Instead, what I picked up from it, were characters struggling with identity and the acceptance of youth growing up.
Another aspect of Bear’s Heart I’m fond of, and is something I feel can set it apart from a lot of YA fantasy, is the theme and what it borrows from. The fantasy is a unique one in it takes a lot from Native Americans myths and history, set in the area of New Mexico. It’s a refreshing theme to a well-read genre and I liked being able to get more of a sense of the region, including mythology, even if it was centred around invading forces and one culture being dominated by another. I found the way of how this was incorporated into the story as a great means to not only engage the reader, but when it comes to a younger age especially, to perhaps create a way for the reader to sympathise and understand certain implications people suffered through (and still do) when it comes to invasion.
I think it’s safe to say that Weaver’s stories leave me with a fuzzy, happy feeling by their end. I feel it’s quite appropriate that Corie’s surname is Weaver and would definitely recommend both her books for those who love the ease with which you can read a YA fiction and enjoy fantasy, but with a difference.