Susan Power in The Grass Dancer literally "gives me goosebumps" through her ability to shake our sense of honoring ghosts and memorializing heritage. In a Jungian move we see the trickster in a Dakota witch, Mercury Thunder, whose inherent magic can change how people feel.
Power sets the stage and the role of the main characters, Mercury’s granddaughter, Charlene Thunder and Harley Wind Soldier, with the words, "Charlene knew she could have Harley Mercury’s way if she wanted. She could bring her grandmother stray hairs from Harley’s head or feathers from his costume, and Mercury would burn them to a powder. She would make a love paste to be baked in brownies, or a love soup mixed with buffalo meat, and one meal later, Harley would be dazzled by Charlene. But it wouldn’t be real. Harley’s eyes would be empty and his efforts to please too desperate."
Portions of the Missouri that roll through the Dakota Nation seem wide and mysterious. Using water as a metaphor, Power helps us see our own human transformation through Harley and Charlene. With each chapter we float back in time and witness its undulation and ability to change the course of life.