The Place Where They Cried

afc5b615a35496686bc331113f7e2ac60720b5c5Title: The Place Where They Cried
Author: Rose Christo
Publisher: Self-Published
Buy Links: Buy Link Amazon ; Smashwords
Genre: Historical. Based on a true story.
Length: Novel (762 pages/253K words)
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

A Guest Review by LenaLena

Review Summary: A beautiful, though blood-soaked, love story that is not for the faint of heart.

Blurb

Spring of 1860: The Pony Express at Williams Station abducts and abuses two small Indian girls. The chiefs of the girls’ respective tribes unite in search of revenge.

Gives Grain, coy and enigmatic, professes shamanic prowess. Middle Road Maker, reserved and stern, struggles to understand his warrior mother’s legacy. From wildly different cultures, these antipodal men have nothing in common–except their inability to keep the other at arm’s length. From strangers to allies to lovers, their actions are what trigger the metamorphosis of America’s landscape.

Based on the true story of the Pony Express War.

Review
The love story between Gives Grain and Middle Road Maker is one of the most romantic I have ever read. But I am going to have to tell you right off the bat that this is not a Romance, because I am pretty sure that if I let people believe that I would be buried in hate mail. What this story does is make you fall in love with these two men and then rip your heart out. Multiple times.

Know that this is a historical novel, set it in the American West in the mid to late 1800s. The story is told in alternating POV chapters between Gives Grain, a Paiute shaman and Middle Road Maker, a Shoshone chief. If you have any knowledge of American history you already know this story isn’t going to end with these two men blissfully sharing a tipi, untroubled by the rest of the world. And the title is a dead giveaway too. I would have been perfectly fine if the story had ended about 45% in, when the men are together and the Pony Express War seems to be over. I would have willfully ignored the facts of history to have them ride off into the sunset together. Instead there is carnage. O my god, the carnage. If it wasn’t for those same facts of history I would have accused the author of overdoing it. How many massacres does one book really need, right? As many as there actually were, obviously. And that makes this a 762 page book, taking us from the Pony Express War through Wounded Knee.

But in between there is so much more. First of all the connection between the two men, which is palpable. The connection with their family, the different tribes, their stories and the land. It’s about the ways the different tribes come together in the face of adversity, their different customs and backgrounds, the frictions and the joys. There are so many wonderful secondary characters in this book that are so fleshed out that, despite the fact that there are dozens of them, I had no trouble keeping them apart. This story is as much their story as it is Gives Grain’s and Middle Road Maker’s. The two main characters have distinctly different voices and different views, but complement each other so well it’s no wonder they need each other like they do.

I have purposely waited a day or so to write this paragraph. I was curious to see how the book would live on in my mind after I’d finished it. What would stick with me, the anger, the sadness, or the joy? I was afraid that the lingering impression would be one of silent horror, but I am glad to say that it is not. While I am sure certain haunting mental images will keep popping up in my head from time to time, and my knowledge of the bloody history of the US is now a lot more visceral than it was, what is staying with me most strongly is a pervasive sense of beauty and love. (It probably helped that I went back and reread some of the early parts of the book). I think it is an amazing feat that Ms Christo managed to infuse this blood soaked historic tale with so much love that that is what touches the reader most in the end.

There are a few instances where things are a bit repetitive, where the reader gets things explained that have already been explained. And as long as the book is, a little tighter content editing would not have gone amiss there. Apart from that, the writing is top notch and there are no other editing issues. I always appreciate it when self-published authors take pride in their work that way. And for $2.99 all her books are a steal.

If you’ve never read anything by Christo before, though, I don’t think this is the best one to start with, just in case it would scare you off the rest of her work and that would be a pity. Maybe try ‘Gives Light‘ first. I also have a better appreciation now for the very light-hearted approach she took with ‘White Buffalo Calf Warriors‘ after writing The Place Where They Cried. As great a read as it is, it is not for the faint of heart. I can’t even imagine what it must have been like to write it.

26 comments

  • I can’t imagine Wave reading any book that’s 700+ pages long, regardless of the topic.

    I’ve read the ‘Gives Light’ books and enjoyed them very much. They are hard to read, given the shameful and heartbreaking way this country has treated, and continues to treat, native Americans. The part about Skylar’s visit to Dine University and the advice he gives still haunts me months after reading the book.

    I think I’ll read this one too. This is important history to learn and remember.

    • Hey Laura

      How you malign me. 😀 I read War and Peace and I’m sure it was a lot longer than 700 pages. BTW I’ m reading a mystery anthology that’s 1200 pages of very fine print that’s killing my eyes (Joseph Hansen’s Complete Brandstetter).

      • You know that complete Brandstetter is finally on Kindle starting yesterday? I have the omnibus too but because it is hard too carry and hard on the eyes I still bought books three through five on kindle.

  • I agree with you that he books are a great value. I do not think this one is for me. Or maybe if I feel in the mood I might read it. However, I did enjoy her Gives Light books.

  • WOW!! What a wonderful review lenaLena. I have not had the pleasure of reading any of Ms Christo’s books as yet but I will be going on Amazon to start with the first one in the Gives Light series. I know that this book is not for me because my stomach would rebel at so much blood and gore. I have stopped reading many Young Adult books because most of them seem to glorify gore. However, I understand that this book is different because it’s historical and I’m sure that Ms Christo wanted to be faithful to the history of the Pony Express War.

    I have to say that this review will stay with me for a long time. Thanks for such a great job L.

    • Aw! You’re welcome! *blushes*

      Christo doesn’t glorify violence in any of her books, I am happy to say. And this one I would never classify as Young Adult, Smashwords has it labeled 17+ too.

      I think Christo had to walk a very fine line here between accurately depicting what happened and scaring people away. She doesn’t revel in the gore, but she doesn’t gloss over how bad things were either. It is a sad fact that she probably would have reached more people if she had glossed over the more horrific events, but at the same time that would have done a disservice to the people whose memory she invokes here. It’s a hard choice to make, but she wrote the story she had to write and even if it is not for everybody, I hope a lot of people will be brave enough to pick it up!

      • If it seemed I was saying that Christo glorified violence, nothing couldn’t be further from the truth. I was referring to most YA books where the authors feel obliged to include in-your-face gore rather than sex. This author seems to have a great deal of respect for her readers and her culture but as you said, she writes the stories she feels she has to write. I’m sure she did a great job here.

        • READ “Gives light”, read it soon :). Am I being pushy and demanding? I guess I am 🙂

        • No, no, that is not what it seemed like!
          I just wanted to clarify for whoever reads this that this book is not YA and that Christo is definitely not one for gore in her other books.

          Listen to Sirius. She gives good advice ;P

          • Apparently my awesomely good advice is not always being adhered too. I reviewed “Gives light” loooong time ago and highly recommended it. Looks around and wonders why our boss still have not read it. 😕 😀

            • Because she has such a huge TBR????? I need 20 years to read all the highly recommended books I want/need to read. I did go back and re-read your review of Gives Light which is what made me decide to put the book on top of my TBR. Thank you Sirius for the swift kick. 😆

              • Oh any time Wave, any time ;).

                Seriously, LenaLena I can get carried away easily with too much talking, I do apologize for that.

  • Wonderful review. I know I can’t read it though. The last book of the Gives Light series left me so angry, sad and feeling helpless. This sounds far more visceral so I don’t think I’d be able to enjoy it. I am dictionary definition of faint hearted in this case. 🙁
    I have every admiration for this writer and am looking forward to the easier going ‘White Buffalo Calf Warriors’.

    • That is probably wise. If ‘Why The Star Stands Still’ left you feeling angry and sad, then this one will destroy you. I don’t recall any particular anger or sadness reading that one, so it’s safe to say it probably doesn’t even compare.

    • Hey I fully respect if that’s how you felt after the last book of “Gives light”, but just to be sure – you have read the fourth book as well, right? Because I kind of understand feeling that way after third book and want to be sure that was not the last book you read 🙂

    • Good point, Sirius. If you stopped at St. Clair, Raine, I’d totally understand the sadness and anger. In that case you need to read Why The Star Stands Still asap. It’s free.

      • Thanks guys, yes I have read the very last one, and it is the visit to the Dine University that I found so upsetting, where Skylar can only offer strategies to teach children about being stolen but no legal redress. It really really got to me. Said I was a wuss! So safe to say I think I’ll pass on this one.

  • Awesome review LenaLena. I completely agree about not for the faint of heart part and about not expecting genre Romance. So beautiful though – she is one of the very few writers I will read the endings like this from but I do not know if I will ever reread it and boy was I glad about looking at the last page (I know – am a bit crazy that way ;)). But if I read this one in order I do not know how I would felt :).

    • One of my friends told me she read the ending and then decided not to read it, so I knew things would be bad going in. I always read endings in paperback books, but not on my kindle. Don’t know why.

      I am sure I will reread it, but only the first half!

      • Have you read “Unborn”? That one ends as well as it possibly could (although the issues do not go away at the end), but I still cried when I read it.

        • I’m trying to decide whether to read that one next, or Fourth World, that just came out.
          But first I am going to read something totally fluffy!

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