Louis Garafalo,
The Sassamon Circle
(Outskirts, 2008)

In this relatively short novel, Louis Garafalo manages to educate and entertain the reader in equal measures.

The story of John Sassamon, a member of the Wompanoag tribe who lived in Massachusetts in the 1600s, is fascinating. Apart from the mysterious circumstances of his death that form the bones of this novel, he seems to have been a real figure that might have been incredible in pure fiction.

The author is excellent in his depiction of a new land being explored and settled. He is also sensitive -- in the most part -- to the earlier inhabitants and gives the reader a good sense of place and personality.

However, it is in his treatment of the settlers that his genetic heritage shines through. His description of Leroy leaving the British Isles is particularly well written:

They all lined the deck to wave to her ... a lonely figure, fading now, shrinking in size and colour. He remained on the deck for another half hour, peering at the fading horizon, his life dividing.

The story captures the tensions of both races in the new land very well and the short chapters allow us to race through a narrative that holds our attention.

There are a few areas where a bit of tighter editing might have made a good story greater. There are some spelling errors -- the curse of spellcheck -- that grate on the nerves of a pedantic reader.

Leaving aside these minor irritations, the tale of Sassamon is very cinematic in its depiction and will keep the reader spellbound for its all-too-short duration.

review by
Nicky Rossiter

21 June 2008

Agree? Disagree?
Send us your opinions!

what's new