‘The Legend of the Washo Gold’ review: Tahoe-based novel touches on mythology
Washo legend states the great San Francisco earthquake in April 1906 occurred because of a Water Child, a youthful spirit with the power to control nature and cause disasters, and there’s one that guards every body of water.
Much of Lake Tahoe’s history is connected to that of Native Americans — after all, Big Blue’s name itself derives from the Washo word for lake.
In Jon Budd’s new basin-based fiction he takes this relationship and puts a unique spin on things, escorting the reader on a time-hopping story that makes stops in the mid-1800s, early 1900s and the present day (supposedly — the “modern era” is never actually prescribed a specific time).
The book, “The Legend of the Washo Gold,” begins in the modern age with Bay Area residents discovering information that leads them to believe gold has been hidden near Cave Rock for over a century. Excited at the prospect of striking it rich they prep for a trek to Tahoe, where two Washoe men are tipped off about the heist and are recruited to protect Cave Rock and the tribe’s treasure that is buried beneath the surface.
From here the story plays out like a standard treasure hunt, but with a few nods to Washo mythology added to the mix. Lake Tahoe’s Water Child is located at Cave Rock, which causes the plot to have a striking resemblance to the legend shrouding San Francisco’s 1906 quake.
Budd’s background as an anthropologist focusing on Native American culture shines through in his book, which released at the start of March this year: While the story is riddled with grammatical errors and abrupt sentences that — somehow — simultaneously seem redundant, the premise is a fascinating study of a culture’s mythology and belief system.
The Texas-based author spent time in Lake Tahoe during the 1990s, and his knowledge of the region is evident. Compared with other works of art created by non-residents, the picture painted is relatively accurate.
“The Legend of the Washo Gold,” while action-packed and sometimes enthralling, cannot come to fruition because of the disregard for grammatical integrity. Its greatest asset is it’s accessible to and suitable for all ages.
The book is available online through Amazon — get it on Kindle for $2.99 or in paperback for $9.99.