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Path of the Guiding Light

por Sharon K. Middleton

Séries: McCarron's Corner (5)

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851,765,854 (3.25)4
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I have read an earlier book in the series some time ago, won from Early reviewers. In this current book I was often confused with characters I wasn’t familiar with and those I was familiar trying to remember this back story and how they fit in to both time streams. The main character Baylie was supposed to go forward in time to bring another character back but she never had that discussion with him which I thought was a bit strange. This and some other anomalies, mainly in
the modern time stream left me a little unsatisfied.
  TinaC1 | Jun 13, 2021 |
NOTE: I won a free eBook copy of this book in MOBI format from LibraryThing's Early Reviewers (January 2021).

I found the premise of the opening chapters captivating: a 21st-Century woman with Native American roots is transported back in time to ensure that her ancestors are led West on the Trail of Tears safely. At first, I was able to (mostly) ignore some of the confusing backstory regarding the initial narrator, Baylie, and her relationships to the other characters, as it tied into the earlier books in this series (which I haven't read). But then Baylie went back to the 21st Century, and then everything got crazy. I felt like the plot disintegrated as it swerved to a story about, among other things, an affair and a teenage prom. (Seriously. There was a whole chapter on girls trying on different prom dresses. Can we get back to colonial America, please??) Though the story ended on a good note and with a set-up for the next book in the series, I really did not care at that point.

I took off half a star for the strange shifts in the point of view - not between different characters, but between the first and third person perspectives. These shifts were jarring, as they often happened from paragraph to paragraph. I wish the book's editor would have caught this. ( )
  msoul13 | May 17, 2021 |
Having been told I won this book as an Early Reviewer in January, I read the other reviews on this site and decided to read the earlier books in the series first - hence the delay in this review. I have to say reading the earlier books first helped alot in understanding the back story and various characters in this book.
I am a great historical fiction reader and specifically time travel, these books certainly filled those criteria but also gave me some idea of both colonial (the earlier books) and native American history in the US which not being American, I didn't understand.
I have to say, I do prefer the historical sections of these books rather than the modern day but that is just a personal preference.
I can't wait for the next book in the series and highly recommend this author. ( )
  MathewsSafaris | Apr 27, 2021 |
Esta crítica foi escrita no âmbito dos Primeiros Críticos do LibraryThing.
Disclaimer: An electronic copy of this book was provided in exchange for review by publishers Black Rose Writing, via Library Thing.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

We’re gonna start this one out with a plea to those folks who provide the synopses of books being offered for review – in the name of all that’s holy, **please** indicate if the book is part of a series. Don't let it be a surprise when the reading copy arrives and is subtitled "Book Whatever of the XYZ Series".

It’s not fair to reviewers to ask them to write with one hand tied behind their back, so to speak. It’s not fair to the potential reader, who won’t be given enough information to decide whether this series ought to go onto the TBR list. And it’s not fair to the author, even though they must shoulder part of the blame by creating a series that requires the reader to come armed with the backstories of the characters.

In fact, one might make a pretty good argument that vanishingly few series entries actually make for a satisfying reading experience as stand-alones; ‘Path of the Guiding Light’ being a pretty good case in point.

First, this is an oddball genre – a fantasy historical novel with time travel, and is therefore encumbered with all the unwieldy luggage which time travel stories insist on schlepping around with them. Second, there is a vast cast of characters, existing in various timestreams (which do not all flow at the same speed), who have somehow woven multiple relationships with one another in the backstory, and most of whom seem to jaunt back and forth through time as if it were the revolving door at Saks Fifth Avenue. Third, many of the characters are known by multiple names which change as their time milieus swap around.

We have a contemporary woman who has gone back in time to lead her Cherokee ancestors west in advance of the disastrous Trail of Tears era. We have an 18th-century Irishman who has come forward in search of his missing wife and children, said wife who was initially his slave and therefore might realistically be reluctant to go back with him, should that be his intent. We have the slave/wife who has just discovered her contemporary husband fathered a child with another woman before he went back in time to bring her forward. We have characters who are given names but not much backstory, yet whose relationships are important in forwarding the plot and determining the actions of the multiple narrators, most of whom are wandering around in time, which no one seems to feel is the least bit unusual.

This multiplicity of story lines by necessity takes away from what one might have assumed, going in, was its core – the decisions faced by Baylie Smith, aka Path of the Guiding Light, aka Guider, as her determination to evacuate the Cohutta Cherokees ahead of the disastrous Trail of Tears removal smacks into a heart-wrenching personal choice.

Yet with a typical time travel paradox, we know that the early removal of the Cohutta did in fact occur, so either Baylie (or someone else) will complete / will have completed the task, which allowed her to be present in the 21st century. And this is another reason why time travel novels are so problematical.

It’s a bone-deep flaw in the whole framework. Middleton is very casual about the existence and operating parameters of whatever time-shifting device (entity? natural phenomenon?) makes all this chronometric galloping about possible. We don’t know where it’s located. Don’t know how it works. Don’t know why it seems to be locked between two specific time periods for a single location as opposed to randomly snatching up and depositing people at arbitrary timepoints around the globe. We are told only that it doesn’t work “unless you’re supposed to go”. This is as handy for a writer as a deep, dark well in the back yard, down which characters can be dropped when their part in the story is over, or rescued later if need be. It’s less satisfying for the reader, because it falls midway between a permanent deus ex machina and a primary killer of suspense – will the hero succeed in the “then”? Well, yes, because otherwise the “now” would be different. So why are we bothering to read any farther?

And that’s the question, really, isn’t it? The answer depends on whether the reader is familiar with the earlier books in the series, can keep the characters straight, and/or has developed an interest in finding out what happens next. For the reader who can’t check off any of the above boxes, this one is probably better passed over. ( )
  LyndaInOregon | Mar 18, 2021 |
As I began Path Of The Guiding Light by Sharon Middleton I became frustrated and a little infuriated with the jumping from one character to another and all the talk about time travel!
As i continued reading i found myself totally engrossed in the. tale, and enjoying myself. As this is part of a series it took some time to familiarize myself with the characters and catch up with what was happening with their stories. But, I was able to and I think that says a great deal about tbe author's ability to develop the characters.
i love Native American historical fiction This read is full of Cherokee history, customs, and beliefs that is accurate and interesting. Ms Middleton did a marvelous job weaving the fictional and factual data to bring a incredible story to the reader
Many thanks to LibraryThing, Black Rose Writing and Sharon Middleton for giving me the opportunity to be part of the The Early Readers group. ( )
  nwavra | Feb 28, 2021 |
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