Thieving Forest by Martha Conway
On a humid morning in 1806, seventeen-year-old Susanna Quiner watches helplessly from behind a tree while a band of Potawatomi Indians kidnaps her four older sisters from their cabin. With both her parents dead from Swamp Fever and all the other settlers out in their fields, Susanna rashly decides to pursue them herself. What follows is a young woman’s quest to save her sisters and the parallel story of her sisters’ new lives.
Over the next five months, Susanna tans hides in a Moravian missionary village; escapes down a river with a young native girl; discovers an eccentric white woman raising chickens in the middle of the Great Black Swamp; and becomes a servant in a Wyandot village longhouse. The man who loves her, Seth Spendlove, is in pursuit after he realizes that his father was involved in the kidnapping. Part Potawatomi himself but living a white man’s life, Seth unwittingly sets off on his own quest to reclaim his birthright. He allies himself with a Potawatomi named Koman, one of the band of men who originally abducted the Quiner sisters, but who now wishes to make his own retribution. Together they canoe through the Black Swamp and into enemy territory looking for Susanna, and while they travel Koman teaches Seth about their shared heritage.
Fast-paced and richly detailed, Thieving Forest explores the transformation of all five sisters as the Quiners contend with starvation, slavery, betrayal, and love. It paints a fascinating new picture of pioneer life among Native American communities, while telling a gripping tale of survival.