EscapeToFortAbercrombieFront - Copy.jpgBook Review: ESCAPE TO FORT ABERCROMBIE
By Candace Simar
Published by Five Star Publishing
49 Chapters
275 pages
ISBN: 9781432838188


Candace Simar’s first books featured the lives of Scandinavian pioneers in west-central Minnesota, living near Fort Abercrombie. In ESCAPE TO FORT ABERCROMBIE, Simar’s latest effort focuses on the adventures of children of those Scandinavian pioneers, as they struggle in the late summer’s heat to find their way to the safety of the fort amid an Indian uprising during the 1860s. Ms. Simar establishes the routine of the pioneer life in the first few chapters, complete with farm chores, disgruntled parents, children who think they are worked too hard as they hunger for school, and the escapades of the livestock. The next few chapters reveal details of the uprising at it strikes the Landstad family farm, just a few miles from the safety of Fort Abercrombie. A majority of the chapters concern the children who had gone off to school, arriving home to find themselves alone. They are required to scrabble their way to the fort through several days of hunger, thirst, and threats of attacks by both Indians and beasts. They are frightened in some instances, and yet they revel in their successes that allow them to progress their way – often at a cost that is not expected. Each chapter deals with an episode towards safety, allowing a buildup to the question, “Will they make it?”

Candace Simar gives us a fine taste of pioneer spirit in her characters – the reader meets the hard-working father and mother, each with their own set of regrets and wishes. The children bubble with the traits of their ages – the oldest, Ryker, has a sense of responsibility but still fights his own juvenile tendencies. The younger children follow Ryker, butting heads with each other and with some of Ryker’s decisions. We meet other adults – some of them Indian, some of them pioneers, some of them the soldiers at the fort – all of them lending a part to the story. All of them carry motivations that span from “I can’t wait to get out of here”, to “Why did I ever come here” to “I can’t stand that person” to “I miss him so much” – and more.

The spectrum of the action certainly ranges from peaceful serenity to frightful violence (therefore intended for mid-teens and above) . . . there is joy, there is suspense, there is relief, there is tragedy. Such emotions are not limited to the children. We learn, too, how the emotions affect the adults as we meet them through the book. The reader rides along with the characters through each cornfield, each mosquito infested bog and along wagon ruts and chilly streams to find a book that grounds itself in historical storytelling that is so well done by Candace Simar and her writing skills.