"Isaac's choices are stark, and the moral dilemmas he faces as he matures form the basis of this richly detailed, emotionally engaging slice of Texas frontier life. Chappell's novel reads the way a John Ford western unfolds on the screen: good folks, hard choices, humor, tragedy, and heartbreaking humanity played out against the backdrop of the great American West. A wonderful book for readers who like westerns that leave formula in the dust."--Booklist starred review
"[This book] does what art demands: It makes us both think and feel."--Texas Parks & Wildlife
"A Texas writer to watch. The author has created strong characters and a vivid sense of place in a tale that is punctuated with bloody fighting and awkward courtships on a tough, unforgiving frontier."--Dallas Morning News.
In Blood Kin, Isaac Webb, a young Texas ranger, struggles for decency amid the violence of the Texas Revolution and the early days of the Republic. Still in his teens when he joins the legendary ranger captain Noah Smithwick, Isaac discovers in himself extraordinary mettle in battle and a fierce yearning for young war widow Catherine Druin.
But victory over Mexico does not bring the new Republic nor Isaac the peace and stability he fought for. Escalating Indian depredations forestall Isaac's hopes to work the farmland he's cleared near Bastrop and to marry Catherine. Pressed into accompanying Smithwick as Sam Houston's peace emissary to the Comanches, Isaac befriends Looks Far, a young warrior at whose side he fends off Waco attacks and with whom he learns to grieve.
As the Texans' hunger for land and the Comanches' penchant for raiding imperil Isaac's friendship and thwart peace negotiations, Isaac returns to Bastrop prepared for the worst. When his future with Catherine is confounded by her father's blind hatred of the Comanches and his own commitment to the indomitable Inez, a Lipan captive, Isaac must confront a brutal dilemma and a painful secret.
So achingly honest and culturally sensitive is Chappell in his telling of this epic story that every image, every characterization rings true. It is hard to believe that he did not live it himself.
Henry Chappell's first novel, The Callings, was a 2003 finalist for the Western Writers of America Spur Award. His articles and essays have appeared in Field and Stream, Sports Afield, Texas Highways, and Texas Parks and Wildlife. Currently, he is collaborating with Wyman Meinzer on a photo-study of the Four Sixes Ranch.