Answer Creek: A Novel

We rated this book:


First, she loses her adoptive parents. Then she loses her hope. Then she loses herself.

I knew as soon as I started Answer Creek it would be a powerful book. It had to be. Of all historical events to be written into a novel, surely the Donner Party couldn’t be softened and made palatable for a reading public. I was right, but far more than I expected to be.

For those unfamiliar, the Donner Party was a collection of people headed west to California. After taking what they thought would be a shortcut, they became stranded in the Sierra Nevada mountains over winter. Without enough food to keep themselves alive, they resorted to cannibalism to survive. Answer Creek doesn’t revel in the gory details, but neither does it gloss over them. It doesn’t gloss over any details. What struck me most as I read it was how openly it showed the grit of westward expansion. There is very little pretty about the lives of the emigrants, but what beauty exists is treasured.

From the brutal first chapter to the denouement, this book captivated me. With its rich sensory details and the varied humanity of its characters, this book is a must-read for fans of historical fiction, and for anyone looking for insight into a period that carved and honed people down to their core.

Reviewed By:

Author Ashley E. Sweeney
Star Count 5/5
Format Trade
Page Count 344 pages
Publisher She Writes Press
Publish Date 2020-05-19
ISBN 9781631528446 Buy this Book
Issue June 2020
Category Historical Fiction

3 reviews for Answer Creek: A Novel

  1. Pat Lundquist

    I read this book four weeks ago, and the characters still haunt me. The breathtaking beauty of the raw West stands in sharp contrast to the utter desperation and suffering endured by the emigrants. This is a vivid testimony to the incredible grit and fortitude of the pioneers, embodied strongly in the main character, Ada. I’m currently savoring a second reading of the book!

  2. Linda Henley

    It was an amazing read. Short of being there, you couldn’t find a better account of how it actually was — grueling, dirty, dangerous, and bold. Good for you, Ashley Sweeney.

  3. eileen engelstad

    It’s a given that I like historical fiction. In Answer Creek, I was transported to times and places that I could “feel,” and be grateful for the easy life I live. The account gave me vivid insight as to how very difficult and S-L-O-W the trek west was, including reminders that aches, pains, sore muscles, blisters, illness, natural bodily functions (not always pretty!), extreme weather, animals and insects were a part of daily life. That the story is from a single young woman’s perspective was an added plus for me. I call it a “must read.”

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