Why was Red Shoes, the most formidable Choctaw warrior of the 18th century, assassinated by his own people? Why does his death haunt Auda Billy, an Oklahoma Choctaw woman, accused in 1991 of murdering Choctaw Chief Redford McAlester? Moving between the known details of Red Shoes’ life and the riddle of McAlester’s death, this novel traces the history of the Billy women whose destiny it is to solve both murders—with the help of a powerful spirit known as the Shell Shaker.
Very few writers can shift a narrative skillfully between centuries and negotiate an enemy language, tribal governments and a slew of spirits while doing so. Very few can translate the soul of such a legacy into words, and allow the shape of such a story to weave itself, like stomp dancers around the fire, naturally. LeAnne Howe has done it. Shell Shaker is an elegant, powerful and knock-out story. I’m blown away. —Joy Harjo, Mvskoke poet and musician