Author: Shannon McNear
Series: Daughters of the Lost Colony, book 2
Major Themes: North Carolina, Roanoke Colony
Synopsis: After the Roanoke settlers moved into the Indian village, what would happen when English people fell in love with Indians?
After reading Elinor, I was really looking forward to reading Mary. The Lost Colony of Roanoke has always intrigued me, as it has many other people. What really happened to those colonists who disappeared seemingly without a trace? In this series, Shannon McNear has woven a story about what may have happened. Not only is this historical fiction, but it is also very much a coming-of-age story involving two cultures.
Mushaniq was only nine when her father Manteo returned from England with the Inqutish settlers. She was intrigued by them and soon learned to like one of the boys, especially. When the Inqutish and the Kurawoten started living together, she and Georgie became close friends. After Mushaniq became a woman, she decided she wanted to marry Georgie. His people would not allow the marriage, however, unless Mushaniq, who wanted to take the name Mary, was baptized. Her people would not allow them to marry unless Georgie went through their ceremony of becoming a man which their own boys did.
Meanwhile, Elinor had been kidnapped by Indians, along with a number of the other English people, and Mushaniq took over the care of Eleanor’s baby, Virginia. Mushaniq constantly struggled with the question of why her father was so changed, so different from the other Indian man, and whether she could really believe in and trust the Kryst he talked about. Without truly believing in the Kryst for herself, she did not want to be baptized like so many people around her had been, but she could tell that something had really happened to them. How could she resolve this tension between two ways of life?
I really enjoyed that main thrust of Mary, as the author tried to show how two very different cultures can come together as one in Christ. I liked the way the Kurawoten thought through their new beliefs and how to change their old customs to glorify God instead of placating spirits. On the other hand, I did not like the many times the story talked about the young, unmarried Indian boys and girls “playing” with each other. I was glad to read the author’s note at the end, that she had not made this up, but the descriptions of the relationship between Georgie and Mushaniq was, in my opinion, too sensual. I kept hoping the people involved would realize that their relationship was sinful and repent, but that never happened. There is another scene that also felt much too sensual to me. I was disappointed to find some of these scenes in a Christian book, and I’m not sure yet whether or not I’ll read the third book in the series.
I received a review copy of this book from NetGalley, and these are my honest thoughts about it.
WARNING: As I mentioned, there are frequent mentions of young people “playing” with each other before marriage, and several times the feelings of the young couple are described vividly. In Chapter 14, someone tries to kill another man. In Chapter 36, a man is killed, in graphic detail. In Chapter 27, a couple gets married and sexual tension gets very high.