Following in the footsteps of Jean M. Auel (The Clan of the Cave Bear) and Orson Scott Card (The Tales of Alvin Maker), Richard E. Valdez’s debut novel aims to use storytelling to illuminate a tumultuous time” – Blueink Review
“Light in the Darkness is a beautiful novel. Written in the style of a Native American folktale” – Foreword
Foreword Clarion Review – Annie Peters
Light in the Darkness tells the story of Honaw, a Hisatsinom boy who grows to become the spiritual leader of his people. A gifted storyteller, Richard E. Valdez has written a highly entertaining, inspiring novel.
The book opens in 1055 in the San Juan Basin of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado. Through the teachings of his grandfather Kwahu, the Soyala Moiety for the Spider Clan, Honaw learns the spiritual traditions of his people, especially the importance of thinking and acting the right way in order to maintain the balance of all things in the universe. Acting correctly includes sharing work and food to assure everyone’s survival, and rejecting the poison of hate. Not all follow these beliefs, however, and a series of calamities befall Honaw’s family and people. Over the course of almost two decades, Honaw grows to become the man who leads his people to White House, their most sacred spiritual place, and helps them retain their peaceful, cooperative culture.
Light in the Darkness is a beautiful novel. Written in the style of a Native American folktale, this story could be one that an elder like Kwahu would tell the children around the campfire to teach them about their ancestors and culture. Because Honaw and his people face a variety of challenges that include murder, wolves, flooding, and overpowering greed, this story unfolds in ways that can’t be predicted, making it difficult to put down. At the same time, the novel is similar to the ancestor tales in that it instructs. Over and over again, the characters learn the benefits of cooperative, peaceful action and the havoc that ensues after falling into selfishness; Light in the Darkness has a message for those living now.
The characters who inhabit the book are memorable. Honaw is a boy upon whom fate thrusts much responsibility. While grieving a death, he fails to act correctly and harms his people seriously, but asks for forgiveness and becomes a great leader. Lansa, Honaw’s brother-in-law, embodies great physical strength and gentleness of spirit. Finally, the main female characters of Nova, Kele, and Lenmana each manifest grace, wisdom, and great determination in demanding circumstances.
Valdez is a meticulous author. He provides a glossary with pronunciation key for the various names and terms used throughout the novel. He also provides a bibliography for those who want to learn more about aspects of this novel and about the Hopi, who are descendants of the Hisatsinom. Because this is a work of historical fiction, Valdez also provides a brief author’s note, differentiating the factual basis of the novel from his fiction. Finally, the cover art depicting a traditional home and pit house aids in picturing the action of the story.
“I have visited numerous sacred sights of the ancient people, and this book took me back to those visits, bringing life to the dwellings. I like the way the author wove the daily life, traditions and customs of the people into the storyline. The characters were well developed and text flows smoothly. This is a good read for anyone fascinated by the lives, challenges and traditions of these people.” – Sher
A captivating read. The life cycle of a people living at one of the great mysteries of the southwestern United States. The author describes the daily life of the people in a time of transition with clarity that makes the reader feel as if they are there. I have been to Mesa Verdi and the four corners many times. This read makes it come alive! Well done Richard E. Valdez. – James Beard aka Noodin
“Great characters, gripping plot, and a very informative book as well.” – Peter
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