Review: The Steep & Thorny Way by Cat Winters

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Rating: 4 stars

A thrilling reimagining of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, The Steep and Thorny Way tells the story of a murder most foul and the mighty power of love and acceptance in a state gone terribly rotten.
1920s Oregon is not a welcoming place for Hanalee Denney, the daughter of a white woman and an African-American man. She has almost no rights by law, and the Ku Klux Klan breeds fear and hatred in even Hanalee’s oldest friendships. Plus, her father, Hank Denney, died a year ago, hit by a drunk-driving teenager. Now her father’s killer is out of jail and back in town, and he claims that Hanalee’s father wasn’t killed by the accident at all but, instead, was poisoned by the doctor who looked after him—who happens to be Hanalee’s new stepfather.
The only way for Hanalee to get the answers she needs is to ask Hank himself, a “haint” wandering the roads at night.

Hanalee lives in Oregon in in 1923. She is the biracial child of a black father, and a white mother. When the book begins, Hanalee's father is dead. He was killed when he was hit by a car... or so we think. The kid who hit Hanalee's father with the car, Joe, thinks that it wasn't the accident that killed him, it was Hanalee's new step-father, the same man who treated her father, Dr. Koning. But it turns out, there are more secrets to unwrap than Hanalee and Joe were ready for.

This is not an #ownvoices book, but don't let that stop you, it's worth a read.

  • The book took place in a state where racial tensions are never really discussed in history class. 
  • The book kind of hit the ground running, people were hiding in the woods, and shooting at each other in the first eight chapters. I was sure someone would wind up dead before this book was done.
  • The book was full of racial tension, but it was handled in a way that would allow me to hand this book to a middle school kid. Some books that handle racism, and the KKK are so terrifying, and intense, and raw that they give me nightmares. This book was more delicate, but not in a bad white washed way.
  • Although I was HEARTBROKEN at what he relationships between Hanalee and Laurence had become, I though it was a great addition to the story. So well done. 
  • LGBT
  • The pictures
  • Read the authors notes
Didn't Like:
  • I thought the ghost element could have been removed from the story and it wouldn't have made a difference. 
  • The Dr. Koning that we saw at the beginning of the book was so different from the one we saw at the end that it took me out of the story a bit, it felt inconsistent.
In Conclusion:
This is a great book that I think everyone should read. The author obviously did a lot of research and although she isn't black or biracial I think she did this story justice. Her authors notes go a long way in explaining her thoughts while writing this book and when she was about to publish it. The book also goes a long way in explaining why it isn't... I guess you could say scarier. I know that I am one of many, but I, as a black woman, am not offended by this book and I figure that's worth saying.

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