Ghost Hawk by Susan Cooper is an historical fantasy set in colonial America in the years leading up to King Philip's War.
Little Hawk leaves his village for a winter in the wilderness, a rite
of passage that every Wampanoag boy must face. When he returns, however,
it is to find that nearly the whole village has succumbed to a fever
spread from the white traders who have recently come to the region. As
Little Hawk and the few survivors are incorporated into another village
which has also seen losses from the fever, by chance he meets John
Wakely, a boy a few years younger than himself. Little Hawk will meet
John Wakely once again in his lifetime, and that meeting will change
both boys' lives in profound and startling ways.
This is a
gripping read that deals with an historical period that may be
unfamiliar to some readers. Life in Little Hawk's Wampanoag village is
respectfully described, and the conflicts between the settlers over
issues of church and state are shown in dramatic and interesting ways.
While the book has its flaws -- for instance, I thought a character that
appears toward the end of the book was too obviously a stand-in for the
author -- I found it an enjoyable read overall, and would recommend it
to readers who enjoy similar types of stories.
(Reviewed from a copy borrowed through my library system.)