larry p madden | yl voice | may 2018
Billy Buckhorn is a 16-year-old Cherokee taking life as it comes, spending summer fishing and hanging with his good buddy “Chigger." From the idyllic, dare I say, nostalgic start, Gary Robinson launches a trilogy of dark mysteries with witchcraft thrown in for good measure. Robinson is of Cherokee and Choctaw heritage and has spent a quarter of a century spinning tales in various media. His work has been featured on PBS, Turner Broadcasting and Ovation Network along with others, but in Billy Buckhorn, he spins tales aimed at the young adult audience.
The first book is “Abnormal," which explains that after a freak fishing accident, Billy's life will never be the same. Coming from a long line of religious people on both sides of his family, Billy's senses are super-tuned and sensitive to what one side sees as evil and the other to harmony and nature as an Indian. Billy is mentored in the old medicine ways by his grandfather, and from there the tale unfolds into a multidimensional trail of discovery. Robinson weaves the realisms of culture from the Cherokee with fictional aspects as not to step on any protocols of medicine society practices or ceremonies that may be held sacred by some.
Then comes “Paranormal," which takes readers deeper into Billy Buckhorn's adventures. Groomed to be the healer by forces that he or his family have no control over, Billy is thrust into dangerous waters concerning matters that were set into motion eons before America was ever dreamed of. Legends and conjecture suddenly meld into reality as evil surfaces. Held in check by ancient powers no one believed ever existed, Billy and Chigger face a battle with forces unknown.
In the final book, “Supernormal," Billy and his grandfather face a deadly, ancient beast that's poised to take control of the world. By now, Billy is a holy man known to his people, and the series climaxes with a showdown similar to those long recognized in American Indian culture. Throughout the series, nothing is said to insult anyone's faith or upbringing, making the books perfect for young readers looking for a heroic story arc with a satisfying outcome.
Supernatural adventures aren't that hard to find on bookshelves, but young Indian heroes aren't yet commonplace. Robinson creates a gateway to introduce an interesting blend of culture and the uncanny. Introduce a young person you know to Billy Buckhorn and they'll be all the better for having spent some time with a modern hero equipped with ancient wisdom. Trust me, they'll finish the series — every kid loves a good ghost story.
Larry P. Madden (Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Wisconsin) was born and raised in the Sturgeon Bay area. A recent graduate of CMN, he enjoys the Powwow trail and strives to maintain balance on the red road.