Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Date of publication: April 18th, 2023
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fiction, Western, Historical, Adult, Adult Fiction
Trigger Warning: Domestic Violence, Death, Child Death, Child Murder, Death during Birthing, Stillbirth
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.
A ragged curtain snapped against the broken glass of the window in the old shack, which had begun to list.Where Coyotes Howl by Sandra Dallas
It is 1916, and Ellen has moved to Wallace, Wyoming, to start a career as a schoolteacher. But, what she wasn’t expecting, was to fall in love with a handsome cowboy named Charlie Bacon. After marrying Charlie, Ellen finds her purpose in being a rancher’s wife and purpose in her friendships with the other women living in the prairie. But life isn’t easy for Charlie or Ellen. When tragedies and trials threaten their happiness, Charlie and Ellen must face and endure them together. Can they weather everything life is throwing at them? Or will they crumble?
I wasn’t exactly sure what to get into when I started reading Where Coyotes Howl. I only knew what I read in the blurb: It was a Western, and the author set it in the Wild West. This book was so much more than what was in the blurb. But, this book’s center was the love story between Charlie and Ellen. It was this love story that made the book.
There are trigger warnings in Where Coyotes Howl. They are:
- Domestic Violence: There were several scenes in this book where one of Ellen’s good friends was beaten by her husband. Keeping with the time, Ellen’s husband wrote off the DV as something between that woman and her husband and refused to get involved. The DV was mainly off-page, but the author highlighted a few scenes. The most memorable one was when that woman’s husband burned her hands on the stove because she dared to crochet Ellen something.
- Death: Death is a common theme throughout the book. People died all the time from various things. There were a few on-page deaths, but I will explain more about them in the other trigger warnings.
- Child Death: There were quite a few scenes where children died, either from illness, accident, or murder.
- Child Murder: There was one brutal scene to read where a woman went crazy and killed two out of her six children. It was graphic (because of where and how she did it) and heartbreaking.
- Stillbirth: Ellen gets into a carriage accident when she is almost to term with her pregnancy and loses the baby. The author doesn’t get too much into detail, but enough is given to understand what happened.
- Death during Childbirth: There is a scene where one of the characters dies during childbirth, along with the baby.
If any of these triggers you, I suggest not reading this book.
Where Coyotes Howl is a medium-paced book set entirely in Wallace, Wyoming. There is a brief trip to Iowa at the beginning of the book but other than that; it stays in Wallace.
I enjoyed reading this book. It is a good book when it surprises me and captures my attention. What I liked the most about this book was that it didn’t sugarcoat how awful the living conditions were back then (they were pretty awful). But it also showcased how good people were to each other.
The author beautifully wrote the main storyline centered around Ellen, Charlie, and their love story. Neither Ellen nor Charlie was perfect, but they were perfect together if that makes sense. There were times when I laughed and other times when I cried. I hated how it ended (but I will get to that later in the review).
The secondary characters and storylines in Where Coyotes Howl gave this book extra depth and fleshed-out characters.
The end of Where Coyotes Howl was not a happy ending. I was astonished because, typically, in these types of books, they are. I had to reread the last couple of chapters before it sunk in. But, as surprised as I was, I understood why the author ended the book as she did.
I would recommend Where Coyotes Howl to anyone over 16. There are nongraphic sexual situations (off-page), violence, and mild language. Also, see my trigger warnings.
Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press, NetGalley, and Sandra Dallas for allowing me to read and review Where Coyotes Howl. All opinions stated in this review are mine.
If you enjoyed reading this review of Where Coyotes Howl, then you will enjoy reading these books:
Other books by Sandra Dallas: