Monday, January 12, 2015

G493 Book Review of Peyote Fire shaman of the canyons by Mary S Black

Name of Book: Peyote Fire; Shaman of the Canyons

Author: Mary S Black

ISBN: 9781500586027

Publisher: Writers Press

Type of book: creativity, shamanic path, 4,000 years ago, Lower Pecos in Texas, community, camaraderie, hallucinations, calling deer, cactus, power

Year it was published: 2014


Deer Cloud is painting the stories of the gods when tragedy changes his life. He is called to walk the shaman path and bring the buffalo through his visionary power. The evil Stone Face will do anything to thwart Deer Cloud’s growing strength. Jumping Rabbit, a lusty female shaman, decides to mentor him and ends up taking him to bed. She introduces him to a powerful spirit plant to counter the effects of the dangerous wolf flower. When buffalo are spotted, Stone Face challenges Deer Cloud to call the beasts with his new power. With Jumping Rabbit’s help, Deer Cloud changes Rain Bringer society forever.

This book brings to life people who lived over 4,000 years ago in the southwest Texas canyonlands known as the Lower Pecos, near the confluence of the Devils and Pecos rivers with the Rio Grande. These ancient people painted over 300 currently known rock art murals, some of which can be viewed today. Archaeologists have also found evidence of a huge bison jump in a small canyon in that region that points to a catastrophic event in the lives of these people so long ago. This book is based on extensive research and is the first novel to examine these events.


While the characters had potential to be interesting, I feel that some of them were more of two dimensional rather than three, at least Stone Face struck me that way. His motives for being a villain aren't clearly explained although they are hinted at. Jumping Rabbit is a female shaman of indeterminate age, either middle aged or a bit older than Deer Cloud who also has her own power and does whatever she can to help Deer Cloud. There is also Singing Grass, Deer Cloud's sister who seems to serve both her grandfather and brother. I'm not really sure of her personality or her motivations, but I think she desires a little bit of independence and choice. Deer Cloud is a talented artist who is open minded and willing to listen to ideas that may conflict with his own, while Stone Face is a very close minded shaman who is more like his way or the highway. There are other characters present, but I couldn't really grasp much of their personalities.


When the time is right, knowledge resurfaces once more


The story is told in third person narrative mainly from Deer Cloud's point of view as well as Jumping Rabbit and Stone Face, but the transitions between the character point of views weren't handled well and sometimes I had trouble understanding from whose point of view I was witnessing things from. Something else is that while I liked the story idea and the dialogue between the characters, I think I desired to know more character backgrounds about Jumping Rabbit as well as Stone Face and I also wanted to know conclusion of a certain plot between Deer Cloud and Jumping Rabbit. Yes, I do feel that the characters need to be worked on more.

Author Information:
(From Historical Fiction Virtual book tours)

About the Author02_Mary S. Black Author

Mary S. Black fell in love with the Lower Pecos more than twenty years ago. Since then she has studied the archaeology and related ethnography of the area with numerous scholars. She has an Ed.D. from Harvard University in Human Development and Psychology and lives in Austin with her husband, an archaeologist, and two cats.
For more information please visit Mary’s website. You can also connect with her onFacebook and Goodreads.


First of all my apologies that I have finished this book pretty late: I started a job at the time where I was asked to work seasonally which really interfered with my ability to read and finish as I usually do. Anyways, now that my apologies are out of the way, time for my review. I'm not certain what exactly to make of this book: it seems to struggle with mood or what its trying to be: is it something light hearted or something serious? From length and summary I guess its going for something light hearted, but the topics that the author dealt with seem to be serious and were not really treated with gravity they deserved. For those that know me, I love reading books that take place in ancient times, and for me the book fills in the space of what happened, and I felt really gratified to learn some of the legends as well as how buffalo hunting began. I also liked the built community and camaraderie between the characters.

This is for Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours 

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

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