Daunis Fontaine lives at the intersection of two worlds. Her mother is white and her father was Ojibwe. She’s passionate about her Ojibwe community and yearns for official citizenship in the Sault tribe. So, when her community sees a series of drug-related deaths, Daunis uses her knowledge of chemistry and traditional plants to begin looking into the mounting meth crisis. Riddled with danger, betrayal, and dark secrets, Daunis must uncover who is behind the spreading meth crisis.
There’s not much that I can say about this book that hasn’t already been said. This is one where you can absolutely believe the hype! It’s such a compelling story, dripping with suspense, filled with twists and turns, populated by dynamic characters, and featuring Ojibwe folklore and language.
Daunis is an exceptional character. She’s smart, loyal to her family and friends, generous of spirit, and incredibly strong. She faces dangerous situations with a cool head and an unyielding commitment to keeping her community safe, even as she is often rejected by her community for her white mother. She also faces some really difficult situations with a strength far beyond her age. I loved to see her find comfort in her Ojibwe beliefs, her connection to nature, and in the women in her community. The novel is led by a variety of strong women whose strength is shown in very different ways.
The novel does not shy away from tough themes like racism, sexual assault against Native women, and the effects of drugs on Native communities. These themes are deftly and thoughtfully handled; leaving a lasting impression even after the story has ended. I am still thinking about this book even though I finished it about a month ago.
Though I did ultimately guess who was responsible for the meth crisis, it did not lessen my enjoyment of the story. And, there were a few twists and turns that I did not expect at all! Though the story is intricately plotted, it moves at a brisk pace and is so suspenseful that it reads very fast.
I listened to the author speak once and she said that it took her ten years to write this novel. That time and attention has resulted in a spectacular novel that is so deserving of the buzz it’s received. If you’ve not read Firekeeper’s Daughter yet, it is definitely time to get on it
CW: death, murder, drugs, sexual assault, racism