This is one of those books I wish had been published when I was eleven years old, along with Terry Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching stories. Like Pratchett’s series, it teaches a young girl how to be a skilled, ethical, smart, responsible witch, or, in Kimbriel’s terminology, a practitioner. The heroine, Alfreda, is an admirable person in every way, courageous and wise beyond her years (age eleven), confronting as a matter of course the challenges and catastrophes of pioneer life in the Michigan Territories. Alfreda (“Allie”) is a perennially-pertinent mentor to young girls with complicated lives who need to learn to trust their gut regarding what the old Victorian occultists called Right Response in dicey situations.
Since the book wasn’t published until thirty years after I really needed it, I’ve had to make do with loving it in my adulthood.
You should read this. If you love it as much as I do, you will rejoice to know there are (to date) two more volumes in the series.