Cursed, abused, and desperate to know her future, Dancing Cat sneaks a glimpse inside her tribe’s Sacred Bundle, a powerful source of spirit magic. Instead of the future, she sees her most powerful ancestor, Small Tree and incurs her wrath. Small Tree strips Dancing Cat of everything —her home, her identity, even her gender – and drops her in the middle of enemy lands.
Injured, and in a strange, new body, she is befriended by Bearclaw who is on a spirit quest. He offers her assistance and asks for nothing in return; a kindness Dancing Cat had forgotten existed. She struggles to weave a path around the obstacles of friendship, identity, and longing in order to survive her eventual return home to face even further punishment.
And she does it while wearing someone else's skin.
I was pulled into this story right from the beginning. I really enjoyed it and hope that Ball writes more stories with these characters.
It's told in first person narrative and moves right along. The setting appears to be an American Indian, sometime after the appearance of the Europeans. The setting is part of the story, almost another character.
Dancing Cat, through circumstances not of her doing, is living on the edges of her tribe, barely tolerated even by her own family. She has been given a new name, "Cursed One", and is allowed barely enough food to survive. She is frustrated, lonely, starving for both food and human kindness, and considering a desperate course of action. Uncertain what she should do, she "borrows" her tribe's sacred bundle, seeking answers.
What she gets is something she could never have imagined. There's a small hint for the readers, but I only caught on a re-read. The story takes twists and turns, but also takes it's time before arriving at at a sweet ending. I actually found myself tearing up. Writing short-form is hard to do well, and Ball has nailed it. The balance of detail and character development is just right. She reveals details slowly, she doesn't rush, and there's no info dump, yet the story isn't padded; it's as long as it needs to be.
Harvest Moon is a delightful blend of history, romance, and fantasy. I didn't put it down until it was done, and I really want to see more of Dancing Cat and Bearclaw.
Publisher: MuseItUp Publishing
The PDF was received from the author for review.