Comfrey, Wyoming: Maiden Voyage
by Daphne Birkmyer
Atmosphere Press

"They had arrived from the spirit world together, they’d fought back-to-back their entire lives."

Arapaho twins Amadeus and Marcela Crow have a special bond, but they also have very different life trajectories as Marcela completes her gender-affirming surgery in San Francisco and Amadeus drops out of college in Laramie to head for a summer job in Alaska's risky fishing industry. Birkmyer fills readers' hearts with the passion she brings to her fiction through her compelling characters, flowing prose, and a vivid sense of place in which landscapes assume personal qualities. She has a talent for sensitively navigating her multicultural characters' physical and spiritual dimensions. She brings her life experiences into her fiction through her knowledge of biology and education and her life as an immigrant in California. One of the author's strengths is vividly painting word pictures, creating a poignant but transformative world where hope and possibility are alive despite human tragedy and where kindness and supportive growth between non-traditional relatives and friends are both possible and probable.

Fans of the previous two episodes of the Comfrey, Wyoming series will appreciate the ongoing adventures of the Crow family and the colorful lives of all fortunate to have contact with them. Many of the original characters in Birkmyer's first two novels return in the third (in memory if not physically), along with some colorful and endearing new characters. While previous books covered the days when the Crow twins were younger, this one spans both the young adult and new adult genres with its young but mature characters, spicy romantic trysts, and a thoughtful dose of adult wisdom and German sensibilities that are shared by the twins' guardian, Heidi. The story themes carry a strong sense of reality and relatability. Although not all sub-plot threads are pulled and resolved, it seems logical that the author will pick up these threads again in the fourth book, which is in the works.

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