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Reviewed by Saifunnissa Hassam for Readers' Favorite
Cindy Burkart Maynard's historical fiction novel Finding The Way (Seeker's Series Book 1) begins in 1250 AD. Set in northern Spain, it is a coming-of-age story of Amika, a young Basque girl, and her quest to find her way in life. Amika's mother, Esmene, a healer, is accused of witchcraft and is burned at the stake. Amika flees into the forest. She barely survives, eating various plants, drawing on the experience and knowledge learned from her mother. An old Basque woman, Ane, rescues Amika. Their peaceful and secluded life in the forest comes to a terrifying end when woodsmen discover their hideout. Ane and Amika are accused of witchcraft and heresy. Imprisoned in the Pamplona church, Ane nears death. Father Joshua remembers Amika's mother as a kind healer. He helps Amika to escape, to fulfill a mission, and to find her way in life. She sets off on the 500-mile pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago.
An immersive story, I particularly liked Cindy Burkart Maynard's Finding The Way for its compelling characters. I felt the pilgrimage of Camino de Santiago provided a powerful and emotionally intense backdrop to the character development of Amika, the principal character. I thought the inclusion in the story of different people added great depth to Amika's quest. I liked how Amika's growing maturity unfolds in the narrative. Amika was raised as a Christian. But she is honest with herself and knows the Basque beliefs she learned from Ane, the old Basque woman, are also a part of her. I loved how Amika's path in life becomes interwoven with two pilgrims, Mateo, the young exile from Andalus, and Esperanza, an orphan. A very thoughtful and evocative historical fiction novel of a young girl's quest along the Camino de Santiago; a story of courage, hope, and love.