Book Took Review: The Spirit Keeper by K.B.Laugheed

Thursday, December 12, 2013
Title: The Spirit Keeper
Author: K.B. Laugheed
Genre: historical fiction
Series: N/A
Pages: 352
Published: September 24 2013
Source: TLC Book Tours for review
Rating: 4/5

The thirteenth child conceived of miserable Irish exiles, Katie O’Toole dreams of a different life. Little does she know that someone far away is dreaming of her.

In 1747, savages raid her family home, and seventeen-year-old Katie is taken captive. Syawa and Hector have been searching for her, guided by Syawa’s dreams. A young Holyman, Syawa believes Katie is the subject of his Vision: the Creature of Fire and Ice, destined to bring a great gift to his people. Despite her flaming hair and ice-blue eyes, Katie is certain he is mistaken, but faced with returning to her family, she agrees to join them. She soon discovers that in order to fulfill Syawa’s Vision, she must first become his Spirit Keeper, embarking on an epic journey that will change her life—and heart—forever.

For such a quiet story with sparsely worded prose, The Spirit Keeper has a lot to say, and it says it rather well. This is the story of the Irish Katie O'Toole, late of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, when one day in 1747, she is taken by two "savages" from her family and home. Katie's story has been told before, and the circumstances she finds herself in are rooted in history, but this tale is unlike the ones that have come before it. With subtlety and deceptive ease, new author K.B. Laughed has created a lovely, unique story and it's a joy to read along with her.

Raised in a large, poor, fractious family, Katie's journey with the two unknown men who "saved/rescued her" is vastly different from the world she had known. Not only in that she had lived on an isolated farm and then finds herself crossing the United States, but in that whereas before her family had either resented or ignored her, Katie finds herself regarded as important by Syawa and Hector. Though she leaves behind the entire world she knew, Katie's journey with the two men allows her to grow into a stronger, more outspoken person than she was before. Through all their trials and troubles, it is easy to see that Katie grows and challenges herself as a person.

There are hints that magic/mysticism may be possible in Laugheed's version of the world. Not only do Syawa and Hector say they journeyed from the other side of the Pacific, across the United States to find her -- not just a Creature of Ice and Fire (with her blue eyes and red hair the title fits Katie perfectly) -- but Katie O'Toole, specifically.  Add that to the fact that several of Syawa's Visions come true, it's entirely plausible that there's an otherworldly force at work in The Spirit Keeper's story. There's no definitive word either way, but the specific nature of Syawa's vision and the snake dream sealed it for me.

I didn't expect to love The Spirit Keeper as much as I did. A lot of my enjoyment is directly related to the author's considerable talent, the engaging story, and the well-drawn characters. It's pretty much a win across the board with this book. It's incredibly readable, well-written, and fresh. I definitely recommend The Spirit Keeper itself to any historical fiction fan and will keep an eye out for whatever Laugheed writes next.


  1. Great review -- I was in love with this book until the last, I don't know, 50 pages -- I was so deeply betrayed by the end of the book. (I vented on Booklikes but kept it out of my review to be polite.) Otherwise, I'm with you -- I was surprisingly taken with this one.

  2. Katie sounds like a fascinating character and I'm looking forward to following her on journey!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.


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