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Reviews of Where Coyotes Howl by Sandra Dallas

Where Coyotes Howl

by Sandra Dallas

Where Coyotes Howl by Sandra Dallas X
Where Coyotes Howl by Sandra Dallas
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  • First Published:
    Apr 2023, 320 pages

    Paperback:
    Apr 2024, 320 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Jennifer Hon Khalaf
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About this Book

Book Summary

Beautifully rendered, Where Coyotes Howl is a vivid and deeply affecting ode to the early twentieth century West, from master storyteller Sandra Dallas.

Except for the way they loved each other, they were just ordinary, everyday folks. Just ordinary.

1916. The two-street town of Wallace is not exactly what Ellen Webster had in mind when she accepted a teaching position in Wyoming, but within a year's time she's fallen in love―both with the High Plains and with a handsome cowboy named Charlie Bacon. Life is not easy in the flat, brown corner of the state where winter blizzards are unforgiving and the summer heat relentless. But Ellen and Charlie face it all together, their relationship growing stronger with each shared success, and each deeply felt tragedy.

Ellen finds purpose in her work as a rancher's wife and in her bonds with other women settled on the prairie. Not all of them are so lucky as to have loving husbands, not all came to Wallace willingly, and not all of them can survive the cruel seasons. But they look out for each other, share their secrets, and help one another in times of need. And the needs are great and constant. The only city to speak of, Cheyenne, is miles away, making it akin to the Wild West in rural Wallace. In the end, it is not the trials Ellen and Charlie face together that make them remarkable, but their love for one another that endures through it all.

One

He sat hunched over in the saddle as he rode up to the schoolhouse on the spotted devil horse he called Huckleberry, the reins held loosely in his gloved right hand. He was dressed in a broad-brimmed white Stetson hat, a leather vest over a boiled white shirt with pockets, and fifteen-dollar fancy striped pants that were tucked into high-heeled boots. Spurs with little chains dangled from his boot heels. A big revolver hung from a wide leather belt strapped around his hips. He touched the brim of his hat with his left hand.

He was just a plain puncher—wiry, because ranchers preferred small, tough men; big men were hard on horses.

She had read The Virginian and all of the Zane Grey books, and he looked to her like a hero straight out of one of those novels. She felt a shiver of excitement go down her spine.

"Ma'am," he said. He could be a talker and had practiced in his mind how he would greet her, but he was so tongue-tied he could barely get out the single word.

"Yes," she ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!
  1. Ellen knows nothing more about Montana than what she has read in Zane Grey books, yet she commits herself to teach for a year in Wallace. She is shocked to see Wallace, a desolate town on the High Plains, and even thinks about remaining on the train and continuing to California. What would make you pack up and move to a part of the country you've only read about in books? Would you have stayed when you saw how bleak the destination was? Could you have been a pioneer?
  2. Ellen and Charlie fall in love at first sight. In fact, Charlie was smitten with Ellen's picture long before he met her. Do you believe love at first sight is possible?
  3. Ruth McGinty is abused mentally and physically by her husband. Because she's barely ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Some of these details could be hard to bear, if not for Dallas's stylistic simplicity. She holds back from delving into complex or tortured internal narratives or ruminations on the underlying causes and emotions that are undoubtedly a part of domestic abuse, rape, mental illness and subsistence living. Instead, there is an innocent positivity threaded throughout — represented by Ellen and Charlie's relationship. Where Coyotes Howl is essentially a grown-up version of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie series. It is mature, as it doesn't turn a blind eye to the harsh conditions of its world, but it also refuses to be consumed by them, focusing instead on hope, love and kinship...continued

Full Review Members Only (454 words)

(Reviewed by Jennifer Hon Khalaf).

Media Reviews

Booklist (starred review)
Dallas' blunt, brutal latest explores the mythic soul of the American West...through a female lens.

Publishers Weekly
[A] sprawling and immersive story of homesteaders carving out a life in Wyoming...Well-rounded characters, convincing period details, and a sumptuous setting make this sing. Readers will be hooked.

Author Blurb Francine Rivers, New York Times bestselling author of The Lady's Mine
What an extraordinary story done by a master storyteller. So many characters fully rendered, lives that grip the heart. I could feel the Wyoming wind in my face and smell the dust.

Author Blurb Paulette Jiles, New York Times bestselling author of News of the World
Anybody who writes about a cowboy with a 'spotted devil horse' and a woman who 'loved him more than the sunrise' has a great story to tell. Where Coyotes Howl is addictive. Highly recommended!

Reader Reviews

Elizabeth @Silver's Reviews

Elizabeth @Silver's Reviews - A good one
A new teacher in town. Will she stay since none of the other teachers last a year? They don't last in Wallace because it's so small, and the winters and summers are brutally cold and brutally hot. Ellen wasn't sure how things would work, ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Women Homesteaders of the West

Black and white photo from 1886 of four women and two horses standing in front of a shackWhere Coyotes Howl is set in the young and growing town of Wallace, Wyoming in 1916, following a couple named Ellen and Charlie's path as they set out to build a ranch on the High Plains. Author Sandra Dallas provides a slice-of-life picture of homesteading and ranching in Wyoming through the various characters. Many of Ellen's friends and neighbors are in different stages of settling their farms and ranches - with some scratching out a living subsistence farming while others have much more well-established farms and ranches.

Life out West in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was extremely arduous due to the High Plains' low rainfall and extreme temperatures. Winters would give rise to sudden blizzards, with little to no visibility...

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Read-Alikes

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