This is an alternate history set in pioneer days. Maps of America's eastern and Appalachian country are included with names that are similar to the actual place names. Problems with good and evil, bad religious people who can't abide anyone who is different or has unusual talents, inhabit the town; also, there are good people who have "knacks" that make them special, but place them in danger by something referred to by different individuals as angel, water spirit, shape-shifting lizard and as simply a dark, shimmering wind.
This is the first in Orson Scott Card's Alvin Maker Series. The next book sees Alvin trying to break free of the Unmaker in order to leave the area to be safe. I haven't yet found book #2, but will get back to you on #3 Prentice Alvin as he returns to the land of his birth.