Selected Reviews for Answer Creek

“Ashley E. Sweeney’s novelization of the Donner Party fuses history, realism, and luminous prose. Ada’s tale is absorbing, and her fortitude and concern for others is an anchoring force. Majestic, moving, and layered with beauty and horror, Answer Creek is a bittersweet and satisfying historical novel.”Foreword Reviews, starred

“Ada is an impressive heroine who thinks for herself and exhibits moral courage in dire straits . . . (the novel) succeeds at capturing the endurance of the human spirit.” Publishers Weekly

“…when readers get a glimpse of her past, her intelligence, and her courage, they will weep for her. Her story is not the Donner story; instead, Ada is every pioneer woman who accomplished more than she ever thought possible and survived.” Booklist

The author is a master of vivid descriptions, dragging readers along every wretched mile of the trail, sharing every dashed hope and every dramatic confrontation, with Ada as their guide. Ada is a marvelous creation, twice orphaned and both hopeful and fearful about a new life in California, the promised land. And savor Sweeney’s prose: “Hope was what used to fill our cup, Ada thinks. Now we are down to dregs.” A vivid westward migration tale with an arresting mixture of history and fiction. ” —Kirkus Reviews

“Ada Weeks is an unforgettable character, authentic and true, created by the deft hands of author Ashley Sweeney….Full of distinctive language, fresh images of overland travel, and the challenge of choices, Ada Weeks is a woman to cheer for while we explore our own journeys toward meaning no matter the century nor trail. Be prepared to burn the night oil to discover more.”—Jane Kirkpatrick, award-winning author of One More River to Cross

“In Answer Creek, Sweeney rescues the story of the Donner Party from its fate as salacious anecdote and delivers a harrowing tale of resilience, folly, loss, and hope.”—Mary Volmer, author of Reliance, Illinois

“…a triumphant retelling of a mythic American tragedy.”—Laurel Davis Huber, author of Langum Prize for American Historical Fiction winner The Velveteen Daughter

“Intimate, engrossing, and personal—this novel is so much more than the story of the Donner Party. Sweeney captures both the highs and lows of human behavior with each gripping scene.”—Martha Conway, author of The Underground River

“With faultlessly authentic period detail and relentless, riveting twists of fate, Answer Creek puts the reader right on the Oregon-­California Trail in every sensory and emotional aspect imaginable. This compassionate but utterly realistic telling of the story gently crushes the sensationalized versions and releases something that feels much closer to truth. Ada is hope personified—it takes wing, soars, crashes—and survives.”—Ellen Notbohm, award-­winning author of The River by Starlight

“So well researched, one can almost feel the cold of winter and the stifling pain inflicted upon the heart and soul of these courageous pioneers.”—K.S. Jones, award-­winning author of Shadow of the Hawk

“Beautiful, descriptive writing . . . a joy to read.”The Literate Quilter

“…a fascinating historical novel, aimed at anyone interested in the struggles of pioneers, especially the Donner-Reed Party. I will certainly look for move novels by this author.”—Reader’s Favorite

“Sweeney immerses the reader in the time and place, giving a brilliant picture of daily trail life, particularly from a woman’s perspective….Stronger still is Ada’s character development. Always scrappy and resourceful, Ada develops a grit and determination on the trail that serves her well….Sweeney deftly gives readers a feel for the horrible choices some members of the Donner Party had to make and is careful to preserve the humanity that is too often removed from histories…” Historical Novels Review

Hardland on Amazon

Buy Answer Creek at Amazon.

ISBN: 978-­1-­63152-­844-6
E-­book ISBN: 978-­1-­63152-­845-­3
326 pages

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Answer Creek Awards

Independent Publisher Book Award
2021 West-Mountain Best Regional Fiction, Winner

Next Gen Indie Book Award
2021 Best Second Novel Winner

New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards
2021 Fiction Historical Other Winner

Western Fictioneers Peacemaker Award
2021 Finalist

WILLA Literary Award
2020 Finalist, Historical Fiction

Arizona Authors Assoc

Arizona Authors Association
2020 Literary Contest Winner, Fiction