a Kesk8a story

by Sherrill Wark

Book Cover: Refuge in l'Acadie

1694 Port Royal. Ordinary life is disrupted when a beautiful dark-skinned stranger floats in from the Big Bay in a dug-out. She is followed by three self-called slave hunters from Acadia’s enemy, New England.

The village drunk knows one of these “slave hunters” all too well: the man kidnapped his little sister years earlier, abandoning her at the docks of Boston Harbor.

Keskoua, her love-smitten brother, the mysterious stranger, a friend with suspicious motives, and the drunk band together to plan a sea voyage on a cursed ship to find the drunk’s sister and rescue the stranger’s daughter from slavery.

I didn’t ask it but she answered my question anyway: “These scars on the outside of me are not from being a slave. They are from being thought beautiful and living beside a jealous neighbor. The scars on the inside of me are from slavery. No one can see those.”

“I saw them,” I told her. “I saw them when you were sitting there on the log with Hélène’s shawl over your shoulders when you first got here. When Monsieur St-Amand was trying to look into your ears and your eyes with his glass instrument. The fear and anger became even stronger in you. It came out like a storm cloud.”


“You may come to our house,” François told the woman. “We will hide you in our children’s room.” He paid no attention to Hélène’s harsh look as she adjusted her baby on her hip then stepped in to slide the shawl with her free hand from the woman’s shoulders up over her head. François was still a soldier inside, trained to protect the best way he knew how. I knew Hélène was used to this but it didn’t mean she had to like it.

I turned back to J-B. “What did your papa say about these men? You said they’re bad? How does he know that?”

“He called one of them Jacques. Jacques l’Itale, I think it was.”

So Jacques l’Itale was not dead after all.

“And when Papa called him that, Mama’s face took on a look I never saw on it before. She said to the man, ‘No. You are dead. As you should be.’”

“We all thought he was dead, J-B. Tell me more.”


“This man was translating for another who…” J-B’s nose wrinkled like he was smelling something bad. “I didn’t like him. I didn’t like the way he looked at us. Like there was something like… I don’t know. Something like anger but no feeling at the same time.”

I knew the word J-B was hunting for was “hate” but I was not going to put that word into his mind.

Reviews:Reviewed by Ryan Jordan for Readers’ Favorite wrote:

"Refuge in l'Acadie: A Kesk8a Story by Sherrill Wark is set in seventeenth century Port Royal. The book kicks off when a beautiful woman shows up out of nowhere, and she is being chased by self-proclaimed 'slave hunters' that are trying to capture her. However, nothing is quite as it seems and these hunters aren't really on the up and up. A group of unlikely travelers forms a sort of rescue/revenge mission.
The dialogue in the story is absolutely brilliant and full of emotion, and the way in which the author is able to capture the essence of humanity in the midst of a dark historical period is incredible. The story is gripping and difficult to put down once begun, and I found myself learning a lot about the history of this period from the things happening in this book.
Refuge in l'Acadie: A Kesk8a Story by Sherrill Wark is a really great story. The writing is clean and beautiful and the characters are dark and interesting. I particularly liked the depth of characters, especially Little Cock who is trying to find his sister after all these years and rescue her, and the conflicted nature of his character made him feel like a living and breathing person. It was clear that the author did a lot of research for this novel, and the historical significance of much of it, while painful, was brilliantly developed and brought the story to life in a way I wasn't expecting. Highly recommended."
Review Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewed by Patricia Reding for Readers’ Favorite wrote:

"Set near Port Royal, on Canada's eastern coast, in the year 1694, Refuge in l’Acadie by Sherrill Wark tells the story of Keskoua and her community of Native Americans whose lives have already been changed by the English, the Dutch, the French, pirates, slave traders, and so many more. Keskoua, a healer in her community, along with her family and friends, takes in a newcomer, a woman of beauty beyond compare, with whom the local men are smitten and the local women suspect. Known as Jenteg, her presence puts them and their children in danger, as slave traders hound her. Yet as the facts unfold, it becomes clear that to help Jenteg is to help themselves. Their lives have changed of late, but their kindness has not. When Keskoua, her brother, and Little Cock, a former drunkard from their community, align themselves with a doctor from the local fort to find a safe future for Jenteg, and to locate her missing daughter, chaos breaks out. In the process, Keskoua, who has disguised herself as a slave for the journey, learns more about herself and her place in her community, and the larger world around her. From the opening pages, it is made abundantly clear that Sherrill Wark did her work researching for Refuge in l’Acadie. She effortlessly wove in various languages, as well as the local dialect, both throughout the narration and the dialogue. The reader knows, in the moment, what is meant. Perhaps most notable, however, is how Wark provides tidbits that lend authenticity to the characters and the tale. It is the little things they notice that make this story so real: the sounds of birds or lack thereof; the concept of a space of time equaling what it would take to “hide an acorn;” the fact that the locals are both enamored with, and frustrated and confused by, some of the changes brought to their land. Readers of historical fiction will find much to enjoy in Refuge in l’Acadie."
Review Rating: 5 Stars

About the Author

Sherrill Wark is a former editor who designs print/digital books for indie authors. She’s the author of: How to Write a Book: Park It, Get to Work, Transplanted Heads: Your Muse Can’t Write Worth Sh*t, and 90 Steps to the Base Camp of Conscious Awareness (non-fiction); Death in l’Acadie, Refuge in l’Acadie, and Trapped in l’Acadie (the first three of a planned 6-book historical fiction series); Graven Images (fiction); Vivie Goes to Hell in a Hatchback (YA); The Closet Hides a Set of Stairs (poetry). Under her pseudonym Christina Crowe, she has published A Girl Dog’s Breakfast, scary stories and rude poems and The Unkindest Cut: Short Creepy Movie Scripts.