West by Carys Davies | Book Review 81/2019

Cy Bellman has a dream. He’s got wanderlust so at first he convinced his wife Elsie to move from England to the Northeastern United States. But now that Elsie has died, the thirty-five year old is ready to go west in search of the great creatures. Famous explorers have tried and failed to confirm the rumors that great monsters of old still roam the forests past the Mississippi River, but Cy is convinced that he can find them. Leaving his sister to care for his 10-year-old daughter, Bess, and his Pennsylvania mule farm, he loads up a pack horse with everything he needs for the trip, including trinkets and his wife’s old blouse that he can trade with Indians along the way.

But before Cy even dreamed of going West, an entire nation was forced to make the same trek, evicted from their native land and cheated out of even the bargain compensation they had settled on. Eventually Cy and one young Shawnee Indian boy called Old Woman At A Distance, meet and must reconcile what going west really means for a man and his family

Much like the traveling characters she writes about, Davies’ packs a whole lot of story in just 149 pages and the result is an epic fantasy that filters a mist-like quality around the scenes, the shapes emerging without a lot of obfuscating details. In the challenges that the characters find themselves up against, the author compares the harsh reality of life at home and life on the road, and manages to conclude that safety and peace are as ephemeral as the idea of finding greener grass somewhere else.

I loved this book! I read it because it was a contender for the Booktube Prize and I was my favorite read of the 6 books I was considering. Click here to see what other books it beat out for my top spot

Book Details

  • Title: West
  • Author: Carys Davies
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Pages: 160
  • Publisher: Scribner
  • Publication Date: April 24, 2018

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