If you’ve read The Alvin Maker series by Orson Scott Card, you’ll probably enjoy this interlude in the travels of Arthur Stuart and Alvin. They meet another great American character called “Davy Crockett” or “The Grinning Man” due to the fact that his knack is “grinning” at things until they do what he wants them to do.
They first encounter this man grinning at a bear who was eating honey in a tree. His motivation was that he wanted to settle there and he didn’t want to be taken unawares by a bear when he slept.
Him and Alvin get into an altercation where Davy quickly finds out that the strong Smith is more than just a hard body. His makery skills are enough to soften his gun nozzle and heat his knife.
The story is pretty much light-hearted and an easy read. It does show off Alvin as a somewhat mischievous character as he changes something in Davy and in the bear which makes this story slightly fantastic.
The bear gains Davy’s knack and he beats him in a grinning match, bringing Davy as his servant into the town. The bear becomes the miller, and then they mayor. When the territory they inhabit becomes part of the United States, the bear is voted as Congressman. Davy Crockett is always with him, being his voice and, as miller’s assistant, making sure the books were straight.
It’s a humorous read and I had to laugh out loud in a few places. 4/5