Michelle Diener popped on my radar about a year ago when I received a copy of her novel In A Treacherous Court. I quickly became engrossed in the book and her ability to take me on a wild ride from start to finish. When I heard she was publishing a book about the war between the British Empire and the Zulus (an African clan that is now KwaZulu-Natal) I was intrigued to say the least.
As the only survivor of a deadly shipwreck that took place off the coast of Zululand, Elizabeth Jones is rescued and saved by the Zulus, known as the people of the sky. Raised by these people for the next six years, Elizabeth learns their ways and becomes one of them. Her white skin becomes an asset after these six years, however, when the Zulu army faces an attempt by the Victorian empire to take over their lands in order to control a trade route. Elizabeth is sent in to infiltrate the enemy camp as a spy, and there she meets Captain Jack Burdell. Burdell finds out that she is a woman immediately, but allows Elizabeth to keep her cover (which he believes is a search for her missing brother) and has her pose as his batman in order to keep her from being discovered. Time is running out, however, as war is growing inevitable between the two sides, and Elizabeth finds herself torn between the tribe she grew up with and the man she finds a growing attachment to. What will she do?
The entire premise behind this story is great! Who doesn’t love an underdog story? The Zulus are clearly the underdogs here, as they are set up in a war they have no choice but to fight in with inferior technology. Knowing absolutely nothing about this conflict previously, I’ve been inspired to read up on the history behind this story and have found it quite fascinating. So, it didn’t seem like much of a stretch to create an exciting story based on the history between these two groups. The only downside to this story was the fact that I was often confused at parts. I had to keep going back to earlier parts of the story to reorient myself, only to have it happen again. This could be due to the fact that the story, being about a war, introduced a lot of characters and locations that moved quickly through the plot. Other than this, however, the story was engaging and lively, and I really enjoyed Elizabeth’s passion for the Zulu people. Her inner conflict over doing what is right for the Zulu people, while dealing with her growing feelings for Jack was written extremely well. As the reader, you are definitely drawn in. Her anxiety becomes your anxiety, and I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next. She fits the bill of a strong female heroine, something Diener is well known for. Her female characters are all much stronger than the men around them give credit for. This simple fact is what keeps me coming back for Diener’s writing each and every time. If you’re in the mood for an engaging book with a historical twist and a kickass heroine, definitely check out Daughter of the Sky.
3 out of 5 stars
This is my thirteenth completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge.
Daughter of the Sky by Michelle Diener
Michelle Diener (2013)
Paperback: 342 pages
Special thanks to Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for my review copy! I’m just one stop on the blog tour for Daughter of the Sky! You can check out all the other stops here! For those of you on Twitter, follow the hashtag: #DaughterOfTheSkyVirtualTour