Taming Spirit

Dan Martin

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Historical fiction, Western

Book Description

The primary setting for this historical fiction novel is the Bar U Ranch, once an active ranch covering over 150,000 acres of rolling Alberta foothills. The ranch headquarters is currently registered as a Canadian historic site. One of the characters in this novel, Laramie, was inspired by the historical figure, Harry Longabaugh, AKA the Sundance Kid, who is registered on the 1891 Canadian census. Longabaugh worked on the Bar U between train and bank robberies in Wyoming and Montana. The main protagonist of the novel is fifteen-year-old Alex Logan who has been bullied, beaten up, and belittled all his life. His only defense is a caustic wit. He confides that his mouth is the only way he can get the hate out–and he has lots of hate. Alex is an embarrassment to his family. His father sends him away to the Bar U Ranch. Here, Alex encounters a wild stallion whose unconquerable spirit gives him hope. He meets Molly, a same-age milking maid, and falls in love with her. Her kindness and wisdom inspire him to be worthy of her trust and affection. In his moment of greatest despair, Alex is befriended by the Bar U’s top horse wrangler, the Laramie Kid. Alex learns that Laramie is one of the western frontier’s most infamous bad men avoiding American justice. He becomes a mentor for Alex and provides him with a sacred insight into the human spirit; an insight so powerful that Alex’s life could never be the same again.


"Taming Spirit," received a positive review from Kirkus Reviews that described the novel as, “An immersive Western coming-of-age story.” A full review is available online at "Kirkus Reviews Taming Spirit." Also, OnlineBookClub provided the comment, “I gave this book a perfect rating of five out of five stars. Lovers of historical fiction should push this book up their lists.” A full review is available at OnlineBookClub.org, "Review of Taming Spirit–reviewer Jane Ogwang." Award-winning Canadian fiction writer, Nancy Kilpatrick, provided the following comment on Taming Spirit: “Kudos to Martin for capturing a special time and place via allusions to historical gangs, ranchers, and gunfighters, steeping the reader in a mostly lawless and barely chartered terrain that feels very real.”