Title: Beware Mohawks Bearing Gifts
Series: The Cove Chronicles Book One
Author: S.A. Collins
LGBTQ+ Category: Gay
About The Book
It’s 1847, New York.
William Matthias Hallett is a fashionable dandy of the Manhattan social set. His life is laid out before him: a world of soirees, riches, and luxury. Yet all he wants to do is find an adventure so deliciously wicked that it will satiate his soul for an eternity.
Disguised in a lower-class manner, into the notorious Five Points he goes, seeking that spark of adventure. That is until it greets him in the form of his old schoolmates from Dartmouth College—a pair of Mohawk warriors who will up-end his world and all he knew it to be forever.
SA Collins had me at “hello” with this book. All I had to do was read the blurb to be sure I wanted to read the rest of the book. And the promise of a whole series? Sign me up.
(Please do note before I begin that I cannot speak to the elements of Native mythology and culture because I’m not Native myself. But I don’t believe that means I can’t read, enjoy the tale, and relate to the characters. I am, however, from New York, and anything set in my neck of the woods that includes some of our history is super cool in my opinion.)
On the whole, the novel delivers on its promises. It’s centered on Native American people, mythology, and worldview, from an #OwnVoices perspective. The characters are solid, well-written and fully fleshed out. Even minor characters give me the impression they have a story to tell. The heavy character development is this book’s strongest point.
I also love that it’s a historical novel that largely feels like it comes from the era in which it’s set. Too often, books set in the past still read in a “voice” that sounds contemporary. Will, the first person narrator, speaks and thinks like he belongs in 1847. I did spot a couple of anachronisms that can’t be attributed to the book being alt-history, but I think they’re forgivable and not really of much importance. (Someone more familiar with the era may have a different opinion, of course.)
Blended genre stories are my weakness, and that was something else I enjoyed. The different elements of historical, fantasy, science fiction, romance, and literary fiction are intertwined nicely. The world-building is excellent. There are a few times when it does border on info-dumping, which slows down the pace somewhat. But otherwise, it’s done well, and the prose is absolutely gorgeous.
Speaking of pacing, I think that’s probably the book’s one big weakness. It’s inconsistent. Sometimes we get long passages that describe the setting, and other times we get lightning-speed action with little explanation. It didn’t exactly bother me, but it was noticeable. I would like to hope it will smooth out as the series continues.
Overall, I feel this book does as advertised on the cover, and I think the author does an admirable job bringing to us what I sense he set out to do. A first novel in a planned series is often a little uneven as it sets the stage, so I find any flaws to be outweighed by the positives.
Amy is a queer spouse, parent, feminist, and book-lover falling somewhere on the Geek-Nerd Spectrum. Their published fiction includes several novels, novellas, and shorter works. They are an occasional host for the Bi+(plus) podcast as well as doing bi+ advocacy work and curating the best-of bi list on the QueerBooksForTeens website. In their pre-kid life, they were a registered nurse and health educator. Now they blog coffee-fueled, quirky commentary on faith, culture, books, chronic illness, and their family. In between all that, they play violin with a community orchestra, and their son convinced them to stay in shape by learning Irish dance.