Friday, February 23, 2018

The Apprenticeship of Nigel Blackthorn by Frank Kelso

Nigel is a spoiled thirteen year old boy whose mother favors him.  He doesn't do chores,  just lazes around.  His family is from Wales and they are coming over to the states to convert the Indians.  It didn't turn out any better than it did for the Whitman family in Washington.  The Indians slaughter them and the only reason Nigel makes it because he hides...

BooksGoSocial and Net Galley let me read this book for review (thank you).  It has been published so you can buy a copy now.

Since Nigel can't even cook for himself, he's in bad shape.  When he finds both his parents dead, the wagon burned and his sisters missing, he has no idea what to do.  When he hears horses, he's afraid the Indians are returning but it's a muleskinner.  He and his partner take Nigel with them because he'd die on the prairie.  When they get to town, they consider leaving him at the orphanage but it's so awful they decide to keep him.

Nigel begins by asking to ride a horse.  He's told he can walk.  He does get to ride a bit but he's not allowed to be lazy.  If he doesn't do what he's told, he doesn't eat.  It might only be beans but he's a growing boy and he's always hungry.  Next up, he's told to run instead of walking.  He's also taught how to cook and how to set up camp.  He's toughening up and getting in shape but then the muleskinner throws him another curve.  He says he has to stay with the Indians while he makes a long trip with the mules.  Nigel hates Indians!  Pascal tells him not all Indians are his enemy.

This is a tale of a young man coming of age with the help of Pascal, a defrocked priest, and an Indian family.  He learns a lot from everyone even if he's tired of being given tasks and he even finds out about sex while with the Indians.  He almost dies of mortification as his Indian mother explains birth control to him.

I like Nigel.  He's tough and won't give up.  There will be more in this series.  This is the authentic old west in a story told well.

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