cover image Weasel


Cynthia C. DeFelice. MacMillan Publishing Company, $15 (119pp) ISBN 978-0-02-726457-9

Readers drawn to pioneer adventure will not be disappointed by this fast-paced novel set in Ohio during the 1800s. The action begins when Ezra, a mysterious stranger, leads 11-year-old Nathan Fowler and his younger sister Molly to a primitive shelter, where the children's father is recovering from an injury. Along the way, Ezra, Nathan and Molly catch a glimpse of the devilish man called Weasel, whose treacherous deeds have terrified the settlers. It soon becomes apparent that Weasel stole Mr. Fowler's gun, left him to die in an animal trap and later killed most of the Fowlers' livestock. When finally meeting Weasel face to face, Nathan has a chance to avenge these cruel acts, but cannot bring himself to murder Weasel. Although DeFelice's ( The Strange Night Writing of Jessamine Colter ) prose is at times moralistic, she effectively conveys the battle between good and evil. The novel's resolution is perhaps a bit too neat; nonetheless, the book succeeds in building tension and revealing thought-provoking ideas about human frailties and the struggle to accept unpleasant truths. Ages 10-up. (Apr.)