© 2003, Kae Cheatham
....Cheat[h]am knows her history and her prose transports the reader to the harsh realities of pioneer life. Believable characters grounded in authentic detail, vivid description and plenty of action make for an enjoyable read. -- John R. Lindermuth from Amazon. May, 2011
I am a 70 year old whose family lived in Sumner County until 1893 when the land rush was held....I just want you to know what a wonderful story you wrote. I hope you intend to continue the story with another book. You were so conscientious with your history details that this book should be required reading in Kansas schools....Your book brought back many memories. Thanks so much. -- Vi, from San Antonio, TX July, 2006 e-mail
...Kansas Dreamer: Fury in Sumner County is firmly rooted in the history of the area and is a truly fine read. The main character, Ellen Hargrove, captures the readers' imagination immediately. The well drawn supporting characters, the clear description of the setting and plenty of fast-paced action hold the readers' interest throughout the book. -- Anne Holt Western Fiction Review, June 2004
It's Spring, it's 1868, the horrible War is over, and Ellen Hargrove and younger brother, Pitt, are delivering homesteaders' supplies to Sycamore Springs to the missionaries and the Indians. Even the word sycamore makes Ellen feel dizzy. It was a sycamore tree "that shrouded her dream, clear as a drawn picture." A sycamore tree and a dead man. And her dream is true--cattleman Francis Stone lies dead under the sycamore tree with his throat cut. From the time she can remember her sleep has been disturbed with strange dreams, but not until 1863--when her farther marches off to war, and Ellen foresees Quantrill's raid on Lawrence--does she have clear visions of the future. Ellen had foreseen her husband's death. Whatever she dreams happens.
When James Montgomery enters Ellen's father's store, Ellen realizes that he murdered Francis Stone. But how can she persuade anyone when she has no proof--only a vision. Even if people who had the "sight" or the "knack" or can foresee the future are not taunted, but generally accepted, foretelling the weather and accusing a man of murder are two different things.
Although Cheatham has written a good whodunit, it is her details of cattle drives, descriptions of what living in a dugout was really like, and how one survived the violent weather that makes this novel so compelling. "The persistent drone of hooves on hard ground that had underscored the last half hour became more distinct. Bawling and snorts accompanied the dark bobbing. Within moments, the moving objects went from flat shapes on a horizon to three dimensional creatures coming closer down the long slope. The cloud of dust behind them towered to the sky. Alarmed grouse thundered up from their ground nests."
Strong writing, sympathetic characters, and sense of place blend to create and enjoyable book. -- Doris R. Meredith, The Roundup, February, 2003
If you connect "dreamer" with "beautiful dreamer" you are in for a shock reading this book. In fact, you are probably in for several shocks anyway. Ellen Hargrove's dreams are examples of clairvoyance. They deal with several murders, one in particular. She has "the gift," but it doesn't make her happy. Living in 1868 when seances and clairvoyants were popular, handsome young Ellen is respected and almost feared. If she knows in advance about a disaster, shouldn't she try to stop it from happening?
For one thing, she isn't sure whether something is this type of dream or not, whether to trust it, if she should do anything about it, or even tell those involved in time to avoid a problem. Worst of all, when she has a premonition of her husband's death should he go on a cattle drive, she hesitates to tell anyone, even her in-laws. He is so eager to go to make money for a homestead. Just a little over a year for a marriage and so much time to regret.
Later when she dreams of more violence and her brother asks her what she can do, she snaps: "Don't ask me that any more! I don't know. Even when I know, I don't know!"
The faint of heart will perhaps shun the violence, especially the blood-and-guts ending, but it will be a page-turner for other readers.... ---Clarice R. Cox, Independent Record, November, 2002