Book Review: Warrior Girl Unearthed by Angeline Boulley

Warrior Girl Unearthed by Angeline Boulley. Image courtesy Macmillan Children's Publishing Group
Warrior Girl Unearthed by Angeline Boulley. Image courtesy Macmillan Children's Publishing Group /

Readers of Warrior Girl Unearthed by Angeline Boulley will be happy to return to Sugar Island and Sault Ste. Marie and follow the new characters and plot in this mystery/heist thriller.

Boulley’s first book in the series, The Firekeeper’s Daughter, gave readers an insightful look at the Ojibwe tribe in the northern Upper Peninsula of Michigan and took us on a rollicking adventure that kept us guessing. Fans of the series shouldn’t be surprised at how this new story unfolds.

Warrior Girl Unearthed: A nitty-gritty history Lesson within a Heist

Set in 2014, ten years after The Firekeeper’s Daughter, there are only a few names that will be familiar. You do get to see Daunis again, all grown up and working through her place in the world, but the focus is on one of her twin nieces, Perry Firekeeper-Birch.

The plot isn’t as tight as in The Firekeeper’s Daughter, but it will keep you guessing. It starts with Perry wanting to have a relaxing, laidback summer of fishing and hanging with her family, but that comes to a crashing halt (pun intended) when she wrecks the Jeep she shares with her sister and her mother forces her to join the tribe’s summer internship program.

What may be a little off-putting for readers is how technical it is to start. Perry’s first task in her new internship is to read a book on NAGPRA, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. It’s a federal law that allows tribes to request the return of ancestral remains and sacred items.

While you don’t read about it alongside Perry, she gives you an in-depth, detailed few pages about it, so your anthropological heart will be happy… And also sad just how many loopholes tribes have to jump through to reclaim what’s rightfully theirs. It’s incredibly insightful and eye-opening.

From there, we’re led into a murder mystery focused around Perry’s family, followed by indigenous women suddenly going missing, followed by a heist plot to return twelve indigenous remains back to the tribe. The back half of the story doesn’t outright feel like it fits with the first half, but there are a few threads that do end up tying them together.

What will keep you reading (aside from wanting to know who the murderer is and how the heist ends) are the side characters. There’s an abundance of them. Perry’s sister Pauline is the complete opposite of her and the differences between the two balance each other out in the perfect way. Where Perry is bullheaded and confident, Pauline is straitlaced and plays by the rules. Where Perry is relaxed, Pauline is anxious. They balance each other out in a way that only sisters can.

There’s also a brief and light romance with newcomer Erik, who has a bit of a troubled past, and much to my own surprise, Perry keeps him out of danger when she realizes just what her actions could mean for him in the long run.

But the surprise breakout star of this novel is Shense, one of the members of “Misfit Toys” (the group of interns who don’t necessarily have a place) that Perry spends a fair amount of time with throughout the book. She’s a teen mom just trying to do her best by herself and for her daughter, and her sense of humor and straightforwardness is a pitch-perfect complement to Perry. I’d read a book centered around Shense in a heartbeat.

While Warrior Girl Unearthed isn’t necessarily a sequel to Firekeeper’s Daughter and reads much differently, if you’re a fan of Boulley’s writing, you’ll find yourself enjoying the twists and turns of this young adult novel.

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Warrior Girl Unearthed released on May 2nd and can be purchased anywhere you can buy books!