“Addictive and immersive, this series is a must-read…”

Heady words regarding one’s efforts, but I’ll take it. The Prairie Book Review has distilled the series well, always a difficult task for an author. “What are your books about?” often leaves me tongue-tied. So, here is a summary of the first three books.

Carrier combines love and intrigue with magical realism to build a stunning literary series set in rural Wyoming, Italy, Paris, and Ireland. In the debut installment, Senga is struggling to realize her true purpose in life as accidental death of her only daughter, nine-year-old Emily, weighs heavy on her mind. The second installment in the series sees Senga gradually coming to terms with her grief as Sebastian, a brilliant Danish artist, comes into her life. In the third installment, Senga finds herself following a magical realism thread that takes her to Ireland. She must weigh her own ability that makes her see what others cannot see. Carrier devotes considerable attention to developing her characters, especially Senga who is greatly affected by the tragic events of her past. The passages exploring Senga’s mental state, particularly after she loses her daughter to the tragic accident are haunting and raw. She balances the increasingly entangled lives of Senga and her friends, including the endearing Stricklands, Sebastian, Joe, Gabe, and Francesca with skill and precision. Carrier elegantly weaves the old legend into the main storyline, and High Wolf’s ancient story is as fascinating as Senga’s ongoing tale. Though it takes time to settle into Senga’s intricate world in the first installment, Carrier’s assured, lyrical prose expertly guides the reader throughout. The second and third installments read like a breeze, and new readers will have no trouble following Senga’s story. The plot unravels at a tantalizingly leisured pace, and Carrier’s immersive prose keep the pages turning. The characters’ complex relationships with one another are brilliantly portrayed, and the exquisitely detailed world and expert plotting are an added bonus. Along the way, Carrier explores deeper questions of love, life, regret, grief, racism, and the human cost of obsession and control. Intrigue, passion and madness, and hints of magical realism with tiny magical moments will keep readers spellbound from start to finish. With its Intricate worldbuilding, heartrending emotions, and expert characterization, this imaginatively told tale is sure to impress both the lovers of women’s fiction and literary fiction. Readers will eagerly await Carrier’s next.

~The Prairies Book Reviewhttps://theprairiesbookreview.com/2021/02/27/the-riven-country-series-by-renee-carrier/

Excerpt from THE SIMPLER, Book III in The Riven Country Series

The following passage opens the book. Greetings from a less cold Wyoming. The new solar array is producing energy, and today’s temperature may reach 54 degrees! I plan to go sop up some sun myself. Did you know, in order to absorb the most Vitamin D, your eyes mustn’t be covered with glasses? Closed eyelids are all right. Sunshine is a winter tonic. I hope it’s shining where you live.

Conservation of angular momentum describes the principle of force on spin. A loose interpretation: those who live near the massive igneous intrusion known as Devils Tower, in the northeast Wyoming Black Hills, are unwitting parties to this business of physics. To wit—given the rotation of the earth and the Tower’s hub-like form (consider a navel, a drain or a spinning ice skater)—a spiraling gravity is thereby exerted upon those in the environs. In other words; the nearer, the faster one spins. Metaphorically or not. A more facile account might read: the closer to the Tower, the crazier. Eggs, hard-boiled and raw, are often employed to demonstrate the principle. We’d be the raw egg white, sloshing around the yoke of the Tower. See? Crazy. Present company considered, naturally.

My name is Senga Munro. I’m a migrant, like early Southerners who turned westward in droves after the Civil War. The story spirals back on itself in every generation, dragging along with it hope (it is to be desired) of greater perspective and wisdom. Not quite working up the gumption to move on, some of us stuck fast, like tumbleweed snagged on barbed wire. Whipped up by the fierce Wyoming wind, I blew onto the high plains gyre. This is why I am here, north of Sara’s Spring in northeast Wyoming, making do in a small hunting cabin and earning a living as an assistant librarian and medicinal herbalist. I have savings and a few certificates of deposit as the result of a recent inheritance. My father died in Viet Nam while helping others during the evacuation. He was a hero. Mama died about two years later. She was sore tetched; I would learn the reason why.

Back on a mountain in western North Carolina, my Grannie and Papa Cowry fetched me up (as we also say). I learned herb craft from Grannie and went on healing calls with her. I helped Papa farm his tobacco and he taught me to hunt. He warned me against needing to know every blessèd last thing.

After they died, I came west with a musician, Rob McGhee. We had a baby who was born on the side of the highway near the Wyoming border. After, I wouldn’t leave, but Rob did; I asked him to. Our daughter died nine years later. Emily fell off the world. We’d climbed a cliff and she lost her balance. I blamed myself for years and years; the pack I had her wear pulled her backward. A man was holding her body when I reached the bottom of the cliff trail.

I’ve wondered what brought the man back into my life after nineteen years, after I’d gone so good and crazy with grief I thought I’d die from it (apart from the proximity of the Tower). A friend, Gabe Belizaire, who works for my neighbors, thinks nothing at all caused the man’s return, but I think I may have finally sorted it; Emily is the cause, my daughter herself, and the cause of my living.

Madness, the Tower and what lies beneath may well be the cause of my dying. . .

[Excerpt from THE SIMPLER, Copyright © 2020 Renée Carrier.]