At the Mercy of the Sea

Amanda M. Cetas

Publisher: Windy Sea Publishing Pages: 349 Price: (ebook) $5.99 ISBN: Reviewed: March, 2024 Author Website: Visit »

At the Mercy of the Sea, third in the Country for Castoffs series, follows three young teenagers growing up in the 17th century and facing life challenges in the New World.

The novel opens with a chance meeting between Etienne, a 12-year-old French immigrant; Abraham, a slightly younger boy struggling to win approval from his father; and Etienne’s friend, Alsoomse, a teenage girl from the Lenape tribe. Their stories quickly diverge, and chapters alternate between their separate adventures.

Etienne boards a ship and sails the Atlantic, only to fall afoul of enemies from his past and wind up on a slave ship on the African coast. Abraham battles frustration and anger, finding himself caught between the worlds of his English father and Native American mother. Alsoomse has feelings for Etienne but is under pressure from her family to marry and live according to the tribe’s traditions.

Life in the 1660’s is well described, particularly in scenes involving Native American customs. Alsoomse’s training as a medicine woman is well researched and detailed, and her growing feelings for Okwaho, a member of the Mohawk Wolf clan, are sensitively rendered. The clash between the old and the new worlds is well expressed in Abraham’s storyline, notably when smallpox ravages his mother’s family’s Montauk village.

Abraham’s storyline is less dramatic than Etienne’s seafaring adventures, yet it rings more true. Only 12, Etienne thinks, speaks, acts, and is spoken to, as if he were a much older character, rendering his adventures hard to believe. The novel is difficult to read as a stand-alone tale, as Etienne’s back-story and past characters are referenced without clear explanation. The novel ends abruptly with only Alsoomse’s storyline satisfactorily resolved.

Overall, the novel is recommended for its informative portrayal of 17th century life, particularly scenes focussed on Native Americans, but the story is best read as part of the wider series.

Author's Current Residence
Tucson, Arizona
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