Cindy Maynard writer/author
Book Life Magazine Review
Plot/Idea: In book two of the Seekers series, an orphaned girl in medieval Europe travels far and wide to pursue a dream of becoming a doctor. Maynard beautifully captures the distant time and place, fully pulling readers into her storytelling.
Prose: Maynard writes clearly and directly with evocative descriptions of rural landscapes along with references to cultural and historical touchstones of the era.
Originality: Maynard integrates threads of historical fiction and fantasy for a unique reading experience.
Character/Execution: Esperanza and peripheral characters bring both a sense of mystery and realism to the pages through descriptions of daily customs, desires, and struggles. Maynard's storytelling succeeds in being both ethereal and anchored in history.
Reviewed by Left Hand Valley Courier
"Esperanza's Way" author Cindy Burkart Maynard will appear at Inkberry Books Oct. 28.
It feels like it's been a while since I've gotten a fiction selection from Inkberry Books-and I'm so happy it was historical fiction, which is one of my favorite genres. Cindy Burkart Maynard's "Esperanza's Way" was an absolute delight.
It's the 13th century and the story takes place between what would eventually become Spain and Italy. Esperanza is a poor orphan with a gift: she has uncanny intuition, which comes in handy in her work as a herbalist/healer. Moreover, she's not just poor financially, she's (seemingly) poor in luck.
While nearly everyone she meets is impressed by her boldness and her extensive knowledge of healing plants, no one seems to know what to do with her. As such, when one tragic event after another happens, Esperanza is constantly being offloaded as somebody else's problem. She stays resolute in her desire to be a certified physician, but she is a woman, with no references and no formal training. As such, her way forward is very much unclear.
I loved reading this book-it is the second in a series- but it seems to be more or less a stand-alone story. It has strong characters, an interesting plot and a fair number of minor twists that are sure to keep readers engaged. I absolutely flew through the approximately 250-page book in just a few sittings, as it was that hard to put down.
Esperanza is very much a woman out of her time. She's driven and smart and incredibly bold. That said, there were a few times where her determination was almost exasperating.
I understand that when betrayal is central to a character's growth, that can sometimes make them feel a little cold at times, but I still wish that she would have warmed up to the other characters more. Despite the fact that the reader essentially follows Esperanza through most of her life, there was-in my opinion-not enough character growth. I would also have liked to see a little bit more of the development that happened as she shifted her goals from licensed physician to where she ultimately ends her story. She was still incredibly well fleshed out, relatable and an overall pleasure to meet.
The ensemble cast was also fairly colorful and dynamic. Some of the supporting characters were only briefly present, but for the most part, the reader engages with them enough to see how they impact Esperanza, and they don't linger too long. I did love how we got a little more development with characters later on, especially with Dolores, because I felt like their presence and growth really uplifted Esperanza's story.
As for the plot, it's not exactly rags-to-riches, but that's perhaps the closest comparable trope. The book spans 40 years (45 if you include the epilogue), and therefore has a ton of action and vignettes of Esperanza's life. We are able to see her grow from a shrewd, distrustful tween into a successful and fulfilled adult, all through seeing the trials and tribulations of her life. It's hard to describe those trials without giving away too much of the plot, but to some degree, as she becomes more secure in life (e.g., financially) she becomes more secure in herself and her place in the world (e.g., self- and familial-love).
As a technical critique, I do wish that there were fewer chapters with temporal tags. Each one would have a title hinting at a theme of the chapter, accompanied with a season/month and a year. There were a few that didn't seem to make sense-for instance, chapter six, "Diaspora - Winter 1262 to Winter 1263" and chapter seven, "On the Threshold - Spring 1264," which end and begin only a day apart. I think it would have been more helpful to only give those indications of time at major plot points, such as when Esperanza is journeying (or fleeing) from one adopted home to the next.
Overall, this was a fantastic read and I highly recommend it to anyone who leans toward historical fiction. If you enjoy strong and driven female characters, you're also likely to enjoy this novel.
Author Cindy Burkart Maynard will also be in Niwot Oct. 28 for an event at Inkberry Books, where she will discuss both "Esperanza's Way" and its predecessor, "Finding the Way."
Reviewed by Essien Asian
OnLine Book Club
Motivated by the memory of her mother dying in her arms, Esperanza resolved in her heart that she would one day walk the halls of the Scola Medica at Salerno and train to become a healer. Fate had brought Amika into her life and she had taken early steps in search of the knowledge that would fulfill her dream. Unfortunately for her, the death of the wife of a nobleman from misuse of a drug Esperanza provided forced her to flee Amika’s home and begin her journey. Cindy Burkart Maynard’s Esperanza’s Way reveals that during her adventure she would find the path to success littered with stumbling blocks, some more difficult to avoid than she expected.
Cindy Burkart Maynard shares a young woman’s struggle to achieve her dreams despite the setbacks she encounters. Europe in the Middle Ages is a curious choice for the setting of her story, but an interesting one nonetheless as the entertaining plot conforms to the historical accuracy of the era. The characters are well-developed and their conversations, though simplistic, maintain the depth I would expect from a story revolving around drama. The subplots involving romance, acceptance, and the gradual passing of the torch between generations are balanced and individually interesting, especially when considering how fluidly Maynard weaves all of them into one storyline. Esperanza’s Way provides immersive entertainment with a high degree of realism brought to life courtesy of Maynard’s engaging style of storytelling.
READER'S FAVORITE FIVE STAR REVIEW Esperanza's Way by Cindy Burkart Maynard is a book that revolves around Esperanza's resolve to become a healer. Esperanza struggles to achieve her dreams due to the setbacks she encounters. First, her mother dies, and then she has to flee the home of Amika and Gabriela after an unfortunate tragedy. She keeps moving from one situation to another. Will she achieve her dream, or will they be lost in the sea of challenges surrounding her? Read more to find out. There were literary elements in the book that spiced up the reading. One literary device that was more pronounced is the simile. Here's an example: "It was clear the orphan girl with eyes like thunder clouds and hair as wild as a storm at sea had a rare gift." Using this literary element in the book helps give the reader a creative imagination of who or what is being described. I loved the inclusion of a timeline in the book's chapter headings. It gave me an idea of when the events of any particular chapter happened. Additionally, the timelines were chronological. They helped me follow the story progressively and not have to deal with back-and-forth movements. The story's flow was excellent as it detailed Esperanza's response to every challenge life gave her. The book is professionally edited. I will recommend it to all lovers of historical fiction. It is also highly recommended to anyone going through tough times, as it motivates them to never give up on their dreams. This book deserves a perfect rating, as there's nothing to dislike. Therefore, I rate it 5 out of 5 stars.