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Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
26


Showing 1-10 of 16 reviews(5 star). See all 26 reviews
on May 24, 2015
I felt very close to all the characters in this book, and there were a lot of them. Nobody was truly good, and nobody was completely bad...OK, there were ONE or two really bad ones, but I won't spoil.
Satha is awesome. A quick study of complex situations, fearless, practical, realistic, loyal, beautiful. (I agree with the reviewer who thought the cover art of her is gorgeous, too.) I would not have prevailed if I had been in her shoes. Loic was more difficult to get a handle on. His growth had me guessing the whole time - none of the outcome for his story was predictable. I like that.
The most moving passages were about the parent/child relationships. Loic and his father, especially.
The world was so real to me. I spent a warm sunny afternoon reading in my backyard, but felt the intense cold, saw the sandstorms and imagined the legion of spirits Loic battled the whole time.

I see the ending as realistic one in a fantasy world, but still hopeful. It made sense, at least as much sense as human history does. I would recommend this to my friends.
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on February 25, 2016
This type of book is the reason I keep trolling Indie titles despite most of them being rather disappointing. Diamonds in the rough are out there, and finding a brilliant work like this in the sea of Indie wannabes really makes it worth the effort finding them.

This is a fantastic bit of world and culture building. An immersive setting and unique characters flesh out what ultimately is a tale of spiritual warfare viewed from within the bounds of a culture trapped in darkness. This is really an innovative perspective, and I am talking Screwtape Letters type of mind-shift here. Having served as a missionary for many years, the reality of confused ideas, blended understanding, and shifted perspective presented here is simultaneously rare and fresh in literature but also a realistic and vibrant look at reality.

Is this a "perfect" book? No, but honestly I am not sure I have ever read a "perfect" book, and certainly have never written one, but this one really hits on many levels to elevate it to an easily recommendable and thoroughly enjoyable read. The author's writing style is clear and easy to follow.

PROS:
1) Phenomenal world/culture building - having spend time in Sub-Saharan Africa and many years in East Asia, Carole creates a very realistic, 3D culture setting. The complexities of the different tribes, their social rankings and how they relate to each other, the customs, perceptions and stereotypes in the eyes of other tribes all work together to create a world that is real, three dimensional, and interactive.
2) Smooth writing style - Honestly, if I NOTICE a writers writing style, that is normally not a good thing. Why? Because if their style is so different as to stand out, then it is jarring enough to pull you out of the story to focus on it. Carole style is so smooth, honestly at times it is more like watching a movie than reading a book. You can immerse so deeply into the story that you forget you are reading. That is a good thing!
3) Fantastic treatment of spiritual warfare - I compare it to Screwtape Letters not because it emulates that work in any way, but I remember reading Screwtape Letters and thinking "wow, I never thought of things from this perspective before". I had that type of moment with Wind Follower as well. I have served as a missionary for years and been in these cultures locked in darkness, but reading this from the perspective of someone trapped inside that darkness, it was a real eye-opening and thought provoking experience for me.

CONS:
1) POV - I'm rarely a fan of 1st person point of view stories. I often find them restrictive being trapped within one person's mind. This was somewhat alleviated but also somewhat compounded as this book is written from alternating 1p POVs. I nearly had a mental derailment trying to figure out how the POV character went from being a "son" in Chapter 1 to "daughter" in Chapter 2. Once I figured out what was going on, that each chapter alternates between a male and female protagonist, it all settled out then. Honestly this is not a huge deal once you are used to it, but readers be warned that is what is coming so be mentally ready for it and it shouldn't be an issue at all.
2) Story transformation - It did take a while for the story to develop and go in the direction it ended up. This maybe is more of a style thing than any kind of real reason to ding the story, but I loved where it ended up. I just had no real sense that was where were were going even by halfway through the book. This didn't detract from the enjoyment of the story, but was rather a bit of a surprise that hints and clues about the spiritual warfare elements were dropped early, but there was no real sense of moving strongly in that direction until well into the second half of the book.
3) Raw...at times perhaps a bit too raw - There were sexual elements in the book that while not in any way gratuitous or too over the top, were to me a bit uncomfortable. I found myself at a few points wanting to fast forward past some scenes. Fortunately they all resolved fairly quickly and like I said did not stray over the line into gratuitous, but I wonder if the story might not have been just as effectively conveyed being a little more glossy and less explicit in a couple of places. Still, that was the author's choice, and perhaps it was necessary to keep the vividness of the overall story, so again not a major ding but something to be aware of.

Overall the pros FAR outweigh the cons and I can wholeheartedly recommend this read to adult readers. It really is a well-written, unique take on spiritual warfare from a writer who has proven the ability to masterfully craft a world and the cultures populating it.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon November 13, 2007
What a read! I loved this book.

An immature but fervent young man at odds with the spirits of his people, yet destined for some greatness he doesn't comprehend or believe; a woman of virtue and selflessness of a different tribe and color who must marry this young , flawed chieftain's son besotted with her looks and manner; and a crucial historical moment when their peoples are threatened by an outside tribe intent on conquest as their religious right: That's the premise of WIND FOLLOWER. Much conflict and growing up ensues.

Carole McDonnell, an author with graceful prose and a fierce talent, has penned a delightful fantasy that rings with echoes of human history and anthropology as well as abounding with Biblical allusions. The combination of her skill in storytelling, her finely realized world with its various cultures and customs, and her definite and unapologetic Christian worldview is one I found resulted in a tale that is exhilirating and refreshing, upholding Christianity within a fantasy framework in an age and genre generally cynical about or skeptical of or openly hostile to such a worldview.

This is a novel that allows for the variety in its fiction that is naturally found in the real world. It's not a Euro fantasyland such as Tolkien's or Lewis' or a host of others that seem to have one or both feet stuck in medieval England or Ireland. No, this one has too many suggestions that its world is set in a place akin to frontier America, while not being bound point by point to that era or geography. There are suggestions of Asia, of Latin America, of Africa (Muslim and pagan and Christian), of Anglo settlers slash conquerors, of Native Americans.

There are three main resident tribes, each with its own characteristics and customs and appearance--one evoking Africa, one a blend of Asia and Native Americans, one less quantifiable but seemingly akin to Latino-mestizos. And there is the supernatural "tribe" composed of legion of beings who interact with the native peoples in various ways, not all of them seemingly worthless or wholly benevolent. There is something more complex at work, and all may not be as it seems.

The human story centers on two characters, an impoverished spinster-woman of the "African" tribe, and a man who is a chieftains's son of the "Asian/Native American" tribe. For him, it is love at first sight. For her, not so much. And the story of his wooing and her resitance, and then of the complications that come into their married life--including some significant treacheries and tragedies--build to a climax that will affect the entire world, and will remind readers of the most significant spiritual narrative of the last 2000 years.

The story is affecting as a love story, as a quest story, as a tragedy, as a heroic tale, as a tale of spiritual warfare. And the voice that the author uses is effective for the telling of such a story, both musical and poetic enough to give it the feel of an oral retelling of a great folklorically-enshrined history, and non-contemporary enough in the sound to feel both culturally different and sacred.

I heartily recommend this to both Christians and non-Christians. Christians familiar with their sacred texts will easily pick up on the multitude of paraphrases and allusions and it will enrich the meaning. But a warning note for those who are on the prudish side or have a thing about sexuality in fiction: There are some scenes that you may find offputting. I found they added and did not detract from the story. But then, I find asexual depictions of romance and marriage false and gynecological exam depictions of sex gratuitious. Carole McDonnell walks the line perfectly. Enough that it feels like real people with real experiences. Not so detailed that you feel as if you stared into someone's bedroom at the wrong time.

Non-Christians will enjoy a tale of romance and adventure and the seeking of one's identity and of truth. Well, anyone can enjoy that. Plus good writing.

If I had to pick out one negative, it's the numerous typos--excess words, missing words, and other booboos-- that the copyeditor should have caught. I hope the book goes into multiple printings and gets a wide readership, but please, for the second and other printings, can the editors at Juno fix those errors? This story deserves the best presentation possible. At the same time, I'd like to thank Juno for having the vision to publish this fine story that is unashamedly theistic.

Oh, and the cover is kicking, but it really should feature both the strong female, Satha, and her spouse, Loic. It's a dual story that is belied by the emphasis on Satha on the cover.

Thumbs up. Very high up and wagging with pleasure.

Mir
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on January 2, 2016
This was the first book I'd read by Carole McDonnell. I loved the cover of the book and admittedly that's what drew me to the book. However, the cover is only one aspect of wonderful detail and it get more beautiful as you poor through the pages. I was particularly drawn the rich detail of the book. The tribal nature of the narrative as a uniqueness to the book. It's as if you're sitting at the feet of the queen and king of the tribe as they relate their story.

More than once I forgot I was reading. I could feel the emotions of the characters so well. Loic was rash, Satha stoic and it makes for a wonderful contrast. The interpretation of the story is left up for grabs but I chose to see it as a parallel of our world and that the gospel was taken to another world so that all could come under the knowledge. Loic and Satha went through so much.

The ending does leave something to be desired but even the ending makes sense. It's because rarely is life a fairy tale and even with individual happiness and success, the overall picture can be bleak. But then, the story for -us and for the people in the book - is not over yet.
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on February 25, 2015
Wind Follower is a romantic fantasy set in a world rich with the myths and history of colonial Africa. Three clans interact and vie for supremacy while facing incursions from invaders outside their traditional lifestyle.CArole brings out how modern religion migrated throughout colonial countries finding points of similarity in the traditional beliefs of the people and using that to form a strong bond.

The story tells of the love two characters who are quite different from one another,differences in age, culture and economic status are very real and touching and has such a spell binding emotional impact on the reader. Loic falls madly in love with Satha at first sight because of her compassion for others and he is smitten and demands to marry her. Satha has a hard time in believing that someone of his stature would even consider her hand in marriage, let alone the fact that they come from different clans. Their lovemaking is sensual and binding, and draws you right in to "feel" the passion that exudes from them. Despite their differences, both are joined by their belief in the Wind God and the blessings he provides.

As the grow closer to each other, terrible circumstances tear them apart. The tragedy happens when a trusted friend betrays Satha and the family sends them down different roads- with Loic seeking revenge. As events unravel, ancient spirits who have been usurped by demons challenges Satha and Loic's faith in the Wind God. The speculative part of the story unrolls at the end. Both characters suffer great loss and tragedy and only at the end are they able to recognize each other as the other half of their own strength. Their love is one combined.

Carole McDonnell's poetic writing, strong characterization, and the mysterious world she created in this book will keep the reader wanting more and more.
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on April 24, 2008
Carole McDonnell does an amazing job of creating a new world, new customs, new language and puts it all together for a fantastic journey in Wind Follower.
When I was stopped in traffic I pulled this book out so I could keep reading it!

You feel her characters anger, sadness, and happiness.
I'd like to see a movie made of this title!
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on December 31, 2014
Great book!
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on November 5, 2017
An imaginative tale by an awesome writer. The author blended elements of history, fantasy and religion to create a fantastic world. Satha and Loic are well thought out characters. I read this through KU.
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on December 18, 2007
Wind Follower by Carole McDonnell is undoubtedly one of my favorite books of the year. As I sit down to write this review I find myself faced with the same problem I had earlier this year when reviewing The Time Traveler's Wife...How do I do this book justice? Wind Follower is a complex yet very readable book; an epic story that tells a powerful tale that imbibes the soul and is filled with passion in each page.

The story is set in a wonderfully unique world that's not often seen in fantasy literature. I'm not totally certain you'd classify this as fantasy, but it has the epic feel of a high fantasy novel and certainly has some fantastic aspects to it, so that should work. The world as I pictured it is a rich desert-like landscape somewhere in the African region. Three tribes abide in this region: The Theseni, the dark skinned original natives of the land; the Doreni, the lighter brown skinned people of the land who conquered the Theseni 500 years ago, and the Ibeni who I took to be people of Asian descent but I could be way off there. With each tribe, McDonnell has created a rich history and beautiful customs. Each tribe is wholly believable as a tribe that actually existed in our Earth's past as McDonnell so skillfully and masterfully describes their ways.

Loic is the son of Taer, the head of a Doreni clan. At the age of eighteen, Loic lays eyes on Satha, a Theseni woman who is 26 years old, and wants her for his wife. It's an unlikely marriage. Satha is beyond normal child bearing years and comes from a poor family. She is dark skinned and from a different tribe than Loic. But Loic has eyes only for her and swears to take her as his only wife and so he weds her and makes her part of his powerful household.

This unlikely union has many obstacles to face just in being what it is. But there are many other things that it will face. Loic has "the falling sickness" or epilepsy as we know it and he is considered weak for it, though few talk about it. This is one of many things that he must overcome to prove himself a strong leader. He must father a child to show his strength. And with that the couple faces more issues.

I really don't want to go much more into the plot because the book tells such a strong and gripping tale, a powerful tale that is so emotionally engaging. McDonnell takes on issues of rape, race, slavery, war, religion, and so much more and nothing is held back. She faces these issues head on and handles them in a way that is raw and honest yet leaves the soul satisfied.

It leaves the soul satisfied because one of the major themes of the book is spirituality. There is plenty of Christian allegory in this book, but you certainly don't have to be a Christian to enjoy it. The tribes in the novel are all steeped in their individual religious practices, some of them very raw, some very beautiful. They reminded me of Native American and Mayan religious practices. Loic and Satha go through quite a bit of trauma in this book. I'm not going to go through it because I don't want to spoil the plot, but they are separated and endure a lot. But there is an enduring spirit there and it comes from a power higher than man. It's truly beautiful and Carole has a true gift in being able to write such touching prose.

I can't say enough about Carole McDonnell's writing. It just blew me away! She created a world that was so incredibly complex with it's own slang, scenery, caste system, races, etc. and made it feel so comfortable. I fell into it easily. I fell in love with her characters instantly. Loic and Satha will both stay with me for a long time. They are both incredibly strong, amazing characters and I'm glad to have met them. Her use of language is just phenomenal. I found the novel painting a picture in my head as I read it, her words are chosen so perfectly. She certainly has a career ahead of her that I look forward to following.

Wind Follower was published through Juno Books which is a very cool publisher. I had never heard of it before finding this book, but Juno publishes books that focus on strong female characters! How cool is that?
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on August 17, 2008
The reader is drawn right into the tale as we meet Loic who is speaking. Loic tells us he will tell us first how Krika died. Kirka's shaman flather brought Kirka before the elders at the Spirit Shrine, the sacrificial mound called Skull Place by the clan. He was bound, the skin of his face had been flayed away, he was weeping and crying out for mercy. While Loic was surprised, he forgave Kirka, who could bear such pain with weeping. Kirka has disobeyed his father's demand that he pay obeisance to the spirits and now he will be sacrificed as part of the monthly sacrifice ritual. Kirka lay where he had fallen beneath a hail of stones.

Wind Follower is centered on Loic tyu Taer and Satha tya Monua a married couple from different tribes. The various major tribes mentioned in the tale are set apart both by race and color. Tribes include white skinned, light skinned and dark skinned clans. It is not just skin color which sets the various groups apart, each tribe or clan is directed by its own set of fairly rigid and ironclad, collective mores, distinctiveness, social customs and even physical appearance beyond light or dark skin.

One group brings to mind an Asian influence, another appears as African, while a third seems to be a blend of more than one group. Plus, there is a mystical clan made up of a throng of beings who intermingle with the native peoples in diverse manner, some benign, some seemingly without merit and some not entirely munificent.

Loic is from the light skinned clan while Satha is quite dark.

Writer McDonnell draws upon her extensive research into ancient African tribal customs to set down an explanation of the rituals, customs and personalities of the various groups and present a clash of societies where cultural mores and customs are absolute law. To break a social more might well lead to individual death, or even to war among the factions.

When the wealthy Doreni Pagatsu son of the king's First Captain first sees Satha, a gentle, dark skinned beauty, from a poor Theseni clan in the marketplace he knows that he wants her to be his wife. Satha's kindness extended towards some members of Loci's clan is viewed resentfully by various of the clan and will direct to her being brutally raped. The assault causes the death of first child. Loic and Satha will be forever at odds emotionally, psychologically, and finally physically because of the loss.

Filled with fantasy overtones Wind Follower is a story of ancient African cultures and their mores, ethnicity and way of life in which the thesis of ancestor and spirit veneration are entwined with a compelling Christian message. Writer McDonnell does not shy from issues religion, class or of race. The setting of the narrative coming in the form of fantasy; serves to cause the tale to be even more out of the ordinary.

First person accounts can be thorny to pull off with integrity. Not only does Writer McDonnell employ first person as her protocol for getting this narrative chronicled, but, on the pages of Wind Follower she interweaves the separate stories of the two main characters: Loic and Satha and manages to use first person effectively not once but twice. Loic and Satha each recount their own portion of the narrative. That McDonnell is a capable writer and master storyteller is obvious as she adroitly manages to give each character their own unique voice.

The various societies, settings and characters as portrayed by writer McDonnell are credible. Wind Follower is a chronicle that attracts the reader, draws the reader right into the striking, fully developed and even at times catastrophic setting of Ibeni, Doreni, Thesini.

Loic is a man on a mission when he sets out to locate and kill the man who violated his wife. Tragedy strikes Satha once again during the time her husband is battling dark forces in his search to find Noam. Satha is seize and sold into slavery. Loic too has much the same fate as the pair depair, not knowing the fate of the other, whether they will ever reunite or if they will even again return to their homes.

Wind Follower is a sociologist's dream novel. The book sets down cultures, with all their qualities and persona in a compelling read that brings the reader to understanding more of social more and importance of taboo and cultural dictates without sounding preachy or causing the reader to feel overwhelmed in the minutiae.

Not for everyone, happy to recommend for those who enjoy a novel that brings about some thinking as well as reading.

Molly Martin
Reviewer
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