Burning Ground by D.A. Galloway begins in 1971. It is the story of Graham Davidson, a young man grappling with survivor’s guilt after losing three siblings. Estranged from his father and searching for purpose, he stumbles upon the concept of vision quests from a Crow Indian.
Graham lands seasonal work in Yellowstone National Park, which sets the stage for a spiritual journey that takes a rather unexpected turn. During a full moon at a sacred thermal area, something extraordinary happens—he finds himself transported back in time one hundred years. There he joins the Hayden Geological Survey, which explored the region that one year later became Yellowstone National Park.
A menacing cavalry lieutenant poses a significant threat to Graham. On his journey, he experiences a string of terrifying events, including a tragedy in a geyser basin, a bear encounter, and a confrontation with hostile Blackfeet Indians.
The story takes a romantic turn as Graham falls in love with Makawee, a Crow woman who serves as their guide. As the expedition nears its end, Graham faces an agonizing decision: does he stay in the past with the woman he loves, or return to the future?
The book impresses with its thorough research and a unique perspective on the founding of our first national park. It’s rich with real-life historical figures, adding depth to the narrative. Character development is a strong suit, with well-formed protagonists and antagonists. However, the narrative gets bogged down by historical facts and background biographies, which disrupt the flow.
As someone who enjoys time travel novels, this one hit the spot, especially since it’s set in the United States. The descriptions are vivid, painting a rich picture of the surroundings, but there is an excess of minutiae.
There are some other shortcomings to consider. The writing is awkward and amateurish—Graham’s lack of discomfort upon discovering he has landed in the wilderness of another century is a notable example. I alternated between reading the eBook and listening to the audio version, and the narration leaves much to be desired. I wouldn’t have finished the book if it hadn’t been a book club selection.
If you like time-travel stories and American history, you might enjoy Burning Ground, but you’ll have to overlook the writing issues. It’s a two-star rating from me.