In Shadow of the Alleghenies, we learn about the Allegheny region as it was being settled: the wildlife, the Indians, the climate and the natural resources. Today’s armchair adventurers can get a real idea about the habits and habitats of wolves, buffalo, mountain lions, beavers and poisonous snakes from this remarkable novel.
But the best part of Edwin Daryl Michael’s special piece of historical fiction is its two unforgettable characters. The adventures, joys and perils of the tall Scotsman named Angus McCallendar become our own. But the real thief of our affection and attention is Schatto, (German for shadow) the newborn wolf pup that Angus rescues from certain death, and with whom he becomes inseparable.
For this humble reader, Mr. Michael deserves a place among the adventure writers’ top tier, putting his name up there with White Fangauthor Jack London, and authors of other animal tales, Black Beauty, Old Yeller, Where the Red Fern Grows, or horse race book. This is one of those books where we grow to believe we know the animals’ thoughts, and their loves and losses are our own, as in The Incredible Journey or The Jungle Book. We lament that we aren’t of the same genus or species as they; we don’t want to believe in any communication differences.
Historical fiction buffs will appreciate the interweaving of legends from the wilderness era: Christopher Gist, Nemacolin, Thomas Cresap, Queen Alliquippa, and George Washington all come to life. More than any other book, this novel gives a realistic view of what it was like to live and survive in the rugged frontier of the 1750s.