Maggie Elizabeth Harrington by C. J. Swykert
Genre: Currently #3071 in Best Sellers Rank for Kindle ebooks, Literature and Fiction-Historical
Publisher: Cambridge Books
Publication Date: March, 2016
Submitted by author for review
Maggie Elizabeth Harrington – Two Covers–One for print and one for Kindle. The Kindle cover includes a wolf in the background, but a modern-day woman.
This powerful story of thirteen year old Maggie Elizabeth Harrington was set in a copper mining town of Michigan in 1893. Maggie Elizabeth is the daughter of a miner who lives with her grandmother and her father (who against everything that Maggie Elizabeth believes in, drowns every new litter of kittens). Her mother passed in childbirth; the father barely speaks to her, the grandmother isn’t much better, and she attributes this to the death of her mother–which she considers must be her fault.
For the better part of her emotionally deprived 13 years, therefore, Maggie Elizabeth retreats often into her dream world where she thrashes out so many philosophical questions–none of which seem to have a satisfying answer. There are so many unsolvable questions in her mind, to which her church and reverend only seem to add more. She does have a sympathetic ear in best friend, Annie, and Annie’s older brother Tommie, whom she secretly adores, but their family is well-to-do and they have “other” plans for their son.
When a wolf raids the chickens from another farm, the men pursue a bounty and quickly confront and dispatch what turns out to be a she-wolf, nursing wolf pups. Maggie Elizabeth is appalled to think the babies will be killed just for being wolves with a bounty on their heads and quickly enlists the aid of both Tommie and Annie, although Annie soon grows tired of the responsibility. The antagonists, the bounty hunters, are brutal.
The self-talk from Maggie can remind you she is just 13 and this is just prior to the turn of the last century. This is an isolated, Victorian mining village. It doesn’t have a name, using instead the name of the mine. Everyone here works in the mine in one form or another. They work hard, six days a week. Sunday is a day for church. There are few opportunities for social gatherings, but it is the opportunity for Maggie Elizabeth to see Tommie, and together they conspire the safety of the pups.
Partaking in the joint care of the pups, Tommie admits his love for Maggie and, therefore, vows to see the care of the pups through to their safe departure back to nature. Unfortunately, the infatuation between Tommie and Maggie Elizabeth becomes obvious, and the 4 pups are discovered as well. More to the point, D. J. Swykert in his endearing descriptions of the pups makes them immensely sympathetic–who doesn’t melt when they look at the face of a puppy?
As Maggie Elizabeth becomes tyrannical about saving the pups, so does her love escalate for Tommie as he backs her to the point of running away together with the pack. They are desperate to save them. But, remember, she is only 13. This can’t end well, and doesn’t.
It is a heart-breaking, tear-jerking ending that generates disturbing disbelief. I have to remind myself–she was only 13 and these were wolves–4 of them–how else could it have ended? This couldn’t have a happy-ever-after, and it breaks my heart. But was the story good? It was good and compelling; characters fleshed out. Dialogue natural. Plot–moving, emotional. Loved it/hated the ending. I was given a gratis copy of this novel for an honest review. It is a powerful literary offering; recommended.
Rosepoint rating: Five of five stars ©2016 Virginia Williams
Author description: D. J. Swykert is a fiction writer living in the Cincinnati area. His work has widely appeared in the US in various publications. He is a proclaimed expert on wolves and published “Alpha Wolves,” among others. You can find him at Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00DD0B17U. He also has a Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/david.swykert