Grey Eyes, A Review
Frank C. Busch's debut novel Grey Eyes begins with the darkness of winter, but the hope of spring. An old man shuffles through snow to greet a newborn. This boy, born with magical powers signified by the color of his eyes, is the focal point of Grey Eyes. However, the old man, Painted Turtle Man, is just as much a part of the story. These two characters take turns guiding the story.
Grey Eyes follows Little Grey Bear Boy as he grows into adolescence and tries to manage his powers that are new to him, but known and expected by the seven clans. Painted Turtle Man, whom Little Grey Bear Boy calls his "moosum" (grandpa), is a medicine man who has taken it upon himself to help teach the young child how to manage his powers. However, the meddling Eagle Twins soon convince the other clan matriarchs to allow a newcomer, Red Sky Man, to train Little Grey Bear Boy when another grey-eyes shows up at their camp. Deception, magic, and war soon take place and the world of the Nisichawayasihk is turned upside down when the evil Red-Eyes try to infiltrate their homeland.
Grey Eyes started off slow, but the pace soon picked up with every turn of the page. There are many ceremonies described within the story that Busch takes his time to describe. This attention to detail brings an overall sense of reality to this fantastical tale. The Sundance ceremony was described in just enough detail to educate readers on the reasons for and the purposes of the ceremony without going too deep. Doing so would have led to either boring the reader or inspiring the reader to wrongfully misappropriate the ceremony.
That Sundance ceremony is also where the reader is brought in emotionally to the story. Through the wrong actions of one man in the ceremony, the reader is struck with anger and a sense of injustice towards the man and feels a sense of pride and general praise for Little Grey Bear Boy. At this moment is when we start to take sides and see the gentleness and humility of Painted Turtle Man when compared to the other man. This is also the point where the magical and fantasy start ramping up.
Throughout the book, there's a mixture of fantastical magic along with traditional ceremonies. Some may have an aversion to this, but Busch did a great job in relating the magic to the ceremonies. They were two parts of the gift of the Creator. Traditional ceremonies and meetings are very spiritual. Those that attend are seeking something by way of vision or help or giving thanks. There is a supernatural expectation in all of it that is brought out in Grey Eyes.
Overall, Grey Eyes is a truly wonderful story that draws the reader in (eventually) and expertly pricks at the right emotions to keep the reader entertained and rooting for Little Grey Bear Boy. This story honestly got better with every new page and the ending leaves the reader satisfied, yet ready for more. Considering there are several more novels to come in the series, that's a great thing. Busch wrote an evocative story that educates readers as much as it entertained. Grey Eyes is one story that all should pick up and enter into this year.