In The Bone Whistle, three generations of Native Americans have their lives changed by the wanaghi, fey spirits who live under the Dakota Hills. Darly, her grandfather Jake, and her mother Vivian have all had their lives shaped by contact with these spirits, for better or for worse.
Every summer Vivian takes Darly out of the city to the reservation to find some peace. Darly dislikes having to go and swears to herself that this will be the last summer she spends there. With a fresh broken heart on her sleeve and failure at college dogging her steps, Darly goes with her mother for what she believe will be the last time.
On the way to the cabins where they spend every summer they stop at her grandfather’s small shop. Jake realizes that Darly is having problems finding her place in life and gives her a small white whistle. He tells her to blow it if she feels up to some adventure, although he does not her tell what kind of adventure to expect. Darly shoves it in her pocket and promptly forgets about it.
Later, while walking out alone, Darly surprises a rattlesnake and afraid for her life blows the whistle, hoping that it will bring some help. Suddenly a strange man is there, stepping out of nowhere to save her from the snake. She barely has time to thank him before he is gone.
Darly runs back to the cabin to tell her mother what happened and life as she knew it changes. Darly had believed all her life that her father was dead. When her mother tells her that he is one of the wanaghi and still alive, Darly decides that she must find him.
When she blows the whistle again, a different man, Osni, appears, and Darly follows him beneath the hill and into a different world. The story that follows is full of adventure and self-discovery, even a touch of romance. Darly must come to terms with the fact that her father is wanaghi, which makes her part of a world she never knew existed.
The Bone Whistle moves along quickly and is packed with action until the last page. Darly is a likeable heroine, but there are other characters that steal the novel. Mni, a wanaghi who appears as a small human girl or a large bird, is a great character and her mischievous ways liven up the book.