“To develop a novel of early Americans in a period so distant that we have no written records of it is to me a miracle. If tour de force were not so overworked an expression I would say that is what Cricket Sings is. To be more specific, Kathleen King has woven a believable and compelling story around the social and economic structure of a time that is known to us only through archeological records. The characters live within their culture and folkways, and are as real as characters in the best of novels.”
“Kathleen King is to be complimented on her ingenious blending of archeological data primarily from the enormous Mississippian Culture site of Cahokia in Illinois with ethnological data gathered from historic Native American groups.”
James L. Swauger, Curator Emeritus–Anthropology, Carnegie Museum of Natural History
“I enjoyed reading Cricket Sings and found it very well–written. The story moves smoothly. The characters are well–drawn and seem alive. The choice of an old woman for the leading character is excellent, novel, and appealing.”
For Cricket Sings, Cahokia medicine woman, the omens have been bad. She is old, and so at this year’s Sun Ceremony she will tell her stories, the tales handed down from grandparents to grandchildren since the memory of the People began. The Sun King is dying, unable to perfom the Ceremony which will bring good crops to the fields. Called to help because she is a healer, she is faced with the dilemma of whether to stimulate the comatose ruler long enough to perform the Ceremony or to poison him so that his son can perform it. Her decision to feign the King’s death by switching his body with that of another old man who has recently died puts her entire family in danger.
This beautifully written novel explores the conflict between loyalty to the tradition of the People and the love of family. The resolution, set against the chaotic mourning for the Sun King, is compelling, believably constructed out of what little factual information is known about the prehistoric dwellers of Cahokia.
Kathleen King is an English instructor at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. She received the Alchemist Review Fiction Award for an excerpt from Cricket Sings in 1980.
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