CM . . .
. Volume XIII Number 14 . . . . March 2, 2007
It is always nice to find a page tuner—a novel with short, sharp chapters filled with enough action to keep the story moving along quickly. Christopher Dinsdale's novel, Stolen Away, does just that. Dinsdale keeps things progressing at a lively pace. In Stolen Away, a young woman named Kiera has been kidnapped and forcibly removed from her Irish homeland by marauding Viking invaders. Kiera was first taken to Greenland, but the novel actually commences after her removal to Vinland, in a North American Viking settlement on modern day Newfoundland. On a voyage of exploration in rough seas, Kiera is swept overboard. Severely battered, she washes ashore where red-faced Beothucks rescue her. Like the rest of their people, Chocan and his sister, Sooleawaa, paint their bodies and faces with ochre, giving a red-skinned demonic appearance far more intimidating than Kiera comes to know the Beothuck people to be. After being welcomed into the Beothuck community, however, Kiera is later captured by Thule warriors. As you can sense, Kiera passes from place to place at a rapid pace, and each new chapter might find her in new hands.
Unfortunately, while the pace is one of the novel's strongest features, it occasionally also detracts from the reading experience. For instance, after Kiera is washed overboard in a storm, I assumed that the rest of the crew aboard the longboat were shipwrecked. Given the violence of the storm, I think this seems a logical conclusion for Kiera also to have drawn. Even though it turns out that this is not what did happen, it seems to me that Kiera would have inquired of her rescuers as to the fate of her companions. After all, Kiera had—despite her kidnapping—grown fond of the Viking people and had clearly taken a fancy toward one of the young men on the ship. After her rescue, I found myself flicking back many times to see if I could find any trace of Kiera asking (or, indeed, even wondering) what might have become of the others on the longboat. Alas, I could find no such concern, or even interest, in the fate of the others. It seemed to me to be an unlikely response (or lack of response) to the situation.
Gregory Bryan is a member of the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, MB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.