Monday, June 15, 2020

Book Review - One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow by Olivia Hawker

I was transported to 1876 Wyoming each time I began reading One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow here I left off. The story is so descriptively written that I felt as though I too were on the prairie. I will remember these two families and this natural setting for quite some time.

Each chapter was written from the viewpoint of Nettie, Cora, Beulah or Clyde. Each of them had a different reaction to the crimes that take place as the story opens. The tension between Nettie and the others is nearly as harsh as the Wyoming winter. Cora is as uncomfortable in the rural setting as Nettie is in Beulah's presence. And Clyde suddenly becomes the man of the house, of two households, but is still a boy who needs to decide whether or not to follow in his father's footsteps. 

The two families are oil and water but they must pull together to survive the winter.

Cora was from St. Louis. She met and married Ernest, who moved them to Wyoming. On her first night, she quietly ventured from the wagon as far as she dared and watched the turning stars in the night sky. She felt she could love the place. But it turns out that she didn't. Cora missed the excitement and socializing of Saint Louis too much. After Ernest left, she was suddenly solely responsible for her four children and the homestead.

Ernest found his wife at the river with Nettie's husband. He immediately leaves the homestead and heads for the sheriff's office in Painted Rock to turn himself in for murder.

Nettie is not the forgiving sort. She can't find it in herself to forgive Cora for her many sins but mostly for the sin of causing her husband's death. And Nettie is sure that the strange daughter of hers, Beulah, must be as corrupt as her mother. She directs her son Clyde to stay away from this girl. Nettie is stoic and strong. She has all of the right answers and solutions. Or does she?

Clyde is talented with the horses and knowledgeable with the sheep. He is hard-working and responsible but his father's anger bubbles just under the surface. This story is about Clyde's coming of age as much as it is about pioneers doing the best they can on the prairie. 

Beulah. Nettie is correct. Cora's daughter, is a strange girl. Beulah appears slow or lazy. But she's not lazy at all. She cares for the three younger children, gardens, helps Clyde with repairing fences, and she knows things. She knows things she shouldn't. Whether it is intuition or visions she knows things before they happen. And Nettie finds this very disconcerting.  

Life on the frontier is not peaches and cream. It is difficult. This story is about grudges, loss, forgiveness, a spirit, and the natural world - both good and bad. And two very broken families that may or may not find their way. There are portions of this story that are difficult to read offset by the beauty of love and healing. And family.

Related Link:

Renaissance Woman reviewed The Ragged Edge of Night by Olivia Hawker. That story is set in Nazi Germany 1942. "To immerse ourselves into Anton and Elisabeth's war-torn lives is to see glimmers of unimaginable beauty beneath the desolation of loss, shame, failure, and fear". Continue reading the review here.  

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


  1. One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow sounds like an interesting historical story form an American perspective. Another one for my book list! Thanks for your review.

  2. Interesting book review. From the title and the time period (1876) and location (Wyoming), I almost expected it to be about American Indian families instead of pioneers. Being a child of the modern world, I know for a fact I could not live the life people did on the prairie back then. You have more of a 'feeling' for living in a 'natural setting' at your WV mountain home, Dawn Rae, and perhaps a better understanding of what life must have been like for those hardy settlers.

  3. I can see why you liked this book Dawn. It is clearly an in-depth look at individual personalities, choices and reactions. It sounds like the author does an excellent job of providing insight for each character in the book. This may be a book set in a historical time period, but clearly people have to deal with the same issues today. Most likely, we can "see" people we know in each character. It sounds like an excellent book to read when seeking a deep thinking novel.

  4. Dawn, what an interesting book! I love historical novels, and this author clearly writes compellingly. I can see why you were immediately transported back to the time, place and world she created each time you picked up the book again - the mark of a wonderful writer.

  5. An interesting review...I always enjoy learning about different times and places.

  6. Your review had me glued - sounds like an excellent book, I was feeling for the characters just from what you've written here!

  7. Sounds like a great read. I love a book that puts right in there as if you were there. Thanks Dawn great review!

  8. I need to pick up this book. Appreciate the link to my review. Thank you!

  9. Oh my I missed this review earlier and I'm making up for it now. This sounds like a really interesting book. I will have to get it for sure. I love stories that transport you to another place and time. It helps to give me a history lesson as well, seeing all the hardships that survival in those days meant. Thanks for this book review. I am already looking forward to opening the pages.

  10. Bookmarked for my friend - this story is right in her lane- thanks!

  11. This novel was excellent. Characters were well thought out ans the language inspiring! This author knows how to use language to portray feelings.


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