Set in Virginia during the French and Indian War, Beth Trissel’s Through the Fire tells the story of Rebecca Elliott and her sister Kate as they travel to live with their uncle on the frontier. Attacked and kidnapped by Shawnee Indians, Rebecca must deal with her misconceptions and deep personal tragedy while falling in love with Shawnee warrior, Shoka. As Rebecca loses her heart to Shoka, she sees the differences in the English and Shawnee societies and changes her thoughts of who are the barbarians.
Ms. Trissel has captured the time period wonderfully. As Rebecca and Kate travel in the wilderness, though beautiful, many dangers lurk for the unsuspecting sisters. Away from the gentility they grew up around, the people they meet as they travel to their uncle in the wilderness are rougher and more focused on survival regardless of which side they belong. I love historical novels because they take me to times and places that I cannot visit and Through the Fire is no different. As I read I am transported back to the mid-1700’s on the American frontier as Britain and France maneuver to control the American continent. I can see how each side feels they are right and the other side the aggressor. I watch how the natives take sides based on promises made but not kept. I felt I was there through Ms. Trissel’s descriptions and settings.
The plot begins with the attack on the group of soldiers as Rebecca and Kate travel to be with their uncle. Rebecca is kidnapped and fights but, as in all good love stories, loses her heart to the warrior who captured her. We see how the war affects all aspects of their lives. This is certainly not the time for an English woman to love a Shawnee warrior and vice versa. I enjoy seeing how Rebecca’s beliefs are challenged and she learns that what she has been told is not the whole story.
Rebecca and Shoka are so believable as lovers. Shoka is calm but can be roused by Rebecca’s stubbornness. They are well matched as they challenge each other, teach each other, and learn from each other. This is not a boring relationship by any means! I enjoyed the secondary characters from the French Captain Renault to Shoka’s cousin Meshewa. The Shawnee fight on the French side of the war. It’s refreshing not to have the novel from the English point of view but to see the conflict from the eyes of the eventual losers of this war and to see the villains as those who we’ve been brought up to see as the “good guys”.
This is an excellent story where there is so much happening with Rebecca in the center of it all. I’m glad I read it and look forward to reading more of Beth Trissel.