Reviewed by Suzanne Menges
The Comanchero’s Grave
by Karen Kelling
“Stories live in your blood and bones, follow the seasons, and light candles on the darkest night — every storyteller knows she or he is also a teacher . . .” says Patti Davis, a modern inspirational speaker and storyteller. Many industry leaders have encouraged us in the agriculture business to tell our story — consumers are increasingly interested in where their food comes from and how it has been raised. While that is certainly important, we have other stories, more intense and urgent stories, which are also important to animal agriculture — stories about how government regulations, drought, and market swings affect our business. Karen Kelling’s new novel, The Comanchero’s Grave is a story that weaves these realities about ranching life into a mysterious and intriguing tale that is sure to entertain as well as teach.
Thirteen-year-old Lovella Grady has a lot on her mind as she and her mother arrive one windy December day at the Crossover Ranch in northern New Mexico. Ranching is in Lovella’s blood and is her dream, but that dream seems to be unraveling before her eyes. Still reeling from the loss of her grandparents, she must now accept the fact that all the cattle on the ranch will be sold to satisfy the impending “death tax”. Grandpa Hank promised the ranch would be hers one day, but the day of the sale she watches as pieces of her future leave one trailer-load at a time.
Like many family ranches today, the Crossover Ranch has a long and interesting history. As Lovella learns of the mysterious and dangerous characters who have been a part of the ranch’s past, she encounters some present-day, not-so-friendly folks who know how to hold a grudge. Kelling takes us on a wild ride of conspiracy, fear, jealousy, young love, and the bravery of a young girl desperate to hold on to her heritage.
The Comanchero’s Grave offers a glimpse into the modern-day ranching world and a family torn between honoring the past while preparing for their future. Kelling’s vivid descriptions of a stormy winter adventure in cattle country makes it the perfect tale to enjoy by the fireside. Better still, it is a story that teaches important lessons about legacies, shared dreams, and how a family can come together to save what means so much to them all.
Editor’s Note: You can meet this author and many others who have been reviewed in the Stockman at the Cowboy Christmas, Friday, December 7, 2012 in the Kokopeli Room at the Albuquerque Marriott Pyramid North at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are still available $40 per person, $60 per couple!