Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Exclusive Excerpts: Maggie Elizabeth Harrington by DJ Swykert

Today, I have some exclusive excerpts from DJ Swykert, author of Maggie Elizabeth Harrington.

In this YA historical romance, "wolves, real ones, not werewolves or surrealist ones, but real gray wolves, are what propel the conflict."  Basically, there is no angsty teenage werewolf who hates a sparkly vampire.

Maggie Elizabeth Harrington is a strong, voice driven love story about a young woman and her boyfriend in a remote 1890's northern Michigan mining town trying to save a pack of wolves from a bounty hunter. I see the book as crossing genres between Romance and Literary. The narrator is thirteen and very independent, making her attractive to both YA and historical romance readers, but the book’s multilayered themes concerning social and environmental issues are profound enough to engage literary readers.
The story is a work of fiction set in Central Mine, a once thriving copper mining village on the remote Keweenaw Peninsula in western upper Michigan. Central Mine is now a ghost town. But when Maggie Harrington and Tommie Stetter roamed its nameless streets it was a thriving Cornish mining community, with the Central Mine Methodist Church at the center of its social fabric. Young Maggie is a free spirited young woman whose idealism often brings her into conflict with the strict teachings of Reverend White and her stern father as she looks for answers to feeling unwanted and unloved. 

"I am terrified for the pups.  I yank at Tommie’s arm and tell him.  “We’ve got to go and find them.  I want to find the pups and take them away before Bernard can kill them.  I don’t want them to die.  I don’t want Bernard shooting them simply because they are wolves, and he can collect a bounty on them.  That is not a reason to kill anything,” I said to Tommie."

"I look at Tommie.  His brown eyes that glisten are wide and open, and I can see he is shaken by what he has seen.  He is wondering about the spirit of the dead she-wolf.  It is bothering him.  I think he got a glimpse of her spirit for a second, and saw it leaving.  He learned something about dying that he didn’t know before.  Something I have learned from watching my father drown my kittens; that all beings have a spirit, even wolves, and they understand as much about dying as we do.  That it is forever, and they are frightened by it."

I have to say, this book took me by surprise. Swept me off my feet a little, and then dropped me on my head.

What Swykert really has going for him here is that he nailed a young girl's voice. I've read a lot, and I've never heard a character quite like Maggie. And his beginning? Wow. Intense. Gripped me from the get go, and never let go.

There's some definite repetition throughout the book, but it reads, for the most part, as a little girl who keeps thinking the same things. The events, characterization, and sweet love story, had me. Swykert has a very unique writing style that may be a bit under appreciated. I'm surprised that more people don't know about this book. I loved going back in time to this simple mining town. He's got his historical facts down, he understands the premises of the story and the time, and it adds a lot to the plot.

At the end of the day, as soon as I finished, (and I read as often as I could) I emailed the author and found out there was a sequel, which I started as soon as I got my hands on it. I look forward to more of Swykerts writing.


  1. This writer has a good range; his subjects really vary.

    Did anyone ever see the movie The Adventures of Natty Gan? I saw it as a kid, and started telling schoolmates I had a pet wolf after that. Strong female characters in young adult books are a good thing.

    1. No, I haven't had a chance to see that. I'd like a pet wolf, though!
      I completely agree that strong heroines are great in books, especially YA ones, GIRL POWER!


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