Lori L. Lake


Michael Jensen

Alyson Publications

PO Box 4371, Los Angeles, CA, 90078-4371

ISBN: 1555838405 $14.95 298 pgs

Out on the Ohio frontier, frontiersman Cole Seavey is trying to avoid an oncoming storm. He is hoping to make it out of the open and under the cover of the woods when two things happen: first, he finds a seriously injured young girl, whom he tries to help; and second, before he can assist the girl, he is attacked by a wildcat. “It was moments like this that had earned me the nickname Cold-Blooded Cole. Staring back at the cougar, my pulse did not quicken, my hands did not shake. Some said it was not bravery that kept me so composed, but dim-wittedness. I don’t know why I was not afraid at such times, but as far back as I could remember, I never had been. Perhaps to be afraid, one must have something he fears losing” (p. 6).

Being cool-headed, Cole fights the cougar, but before the fight concludes, something far more sinister comes at him: “a monster, a devil out of the bowels of hell” (p. 7). As the storm suddenly crashes all about him, he fights the monstrous creature for his life.

I don’t want to give away too much of the story, but after the initial attack and a frighteningly exciting escape, Cole has lost his musket and all his supplies. He is found and helped by a Delaware brave named Pakim, and luckily they are close to Hugh’s Lick, a settlement near the Delaware camp where Cole’s brother was supposed to be living. But it’s as if Cole has brought bad luck with him. The townspeople call the brutal, bloodthirsty killer a wendigo, and no one feels safe once it begins to systematically attack and kill.

Featuring appearances by characters John Chapman and Palmer Baxter from the previous novel FRONTIERS, Jensen has woven together a spell-binding story that is half mystery and half horror. I read the book in one sitting, intensely curious to discover the secrets of the murderous attacks and whether the phantom could be vanquished. I also found Cole’s personal journey to be interesting as he goes from the self-professed state of being cold-blooded to a man who is discovers the depths of his fear–and strengths. FIRELANDS is an exciting addition to what I hope will be a whole series of gay frontier historical novels.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Midwest Book Review

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group