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Reviewed by Cheryl E. Rodriguez for Readers' Favorite
Lives of the Spirits by John Pappas is the continuing story of Aidan. Aidan, originally from Boston, was captured and made a slave on the ship Lucky Wind. After escaping the cruelty of Captain Montrose, Aidan found refuge with the Indians of the Pacific North West, located in the Ozette region. While living among the natives, he falls in love and marries Neveah. The young couple is expecting their first child. Aidan, called “Irish” by his native friends, and Neveah embark on a journey up the Big River (Columbia River) to make trade negotiations with the Chinooks. The journey is arduous, with the couple enduring hardships of weather, navigating the “fast waters” of the river, attacks from hostile Indians, and the rapidly spreading smallpox epidemic. Everywhere Aidan goes, destruction seems to follow. Life is changing so fast. Aidan ponders what the future holds for him and Neveah. With the help from his spirit guide, he is determined to see them through this life-changing adventure.
Lives of the Spirits is an eye-opening adventure of life along the Columbia River during the early 1800s. John Pappas is well researched and has a keen understanding of Pacific Northwest Indian history and tribal folklore. The narrative is written in first person, allowing the reader to experience the tale through the eyes, ears and spirit of its hero. Pappas portrays the conflict of man against man, man against society, and man against nature with blended enthusiasm and relevance. As a reader, you are easily drawn into the story’s action, sensing the elements of nature, the overwhelming harshness of the environment. I appreciated the subtle nuances regarding slavery, portraying how its bondage continues even when freedom has been achieved. Pappas reveals through his characters the daily fight for freedom from within and without. The novel concludes with a hopeful future, but this is not the end of the tale. John Pappas leaves the reader anticipating what will happen next in the lives of Aidan and Neveah.