Garth Stein wrote The Art of Racing in the Rain, but I unfortunately never got a chance to pick it up and read it. I always meant to get to it, but life seemed to get in the way. So I was even more excited to receive a copy of Raven Stole the Moon from Sarah Daily at Terra Communications. Originally released in 1998, it's now been released again -- and rightfully so. After reading it, I can see how it fits much better into today's market, and I fully expect this book to become incredibly popular.
Jenna Rosen is married and living in Seattle with her husband, Robert. Her life now is strained and tired and she is unable to move through it with some type of normalcy. Some time has passed since the heartbreaking day when her young five-year-old son slipped over into the water, disappearing from the surface while on a vacation near her Native American grandmother's hometown of Wrangell, Alaska. The resort of Thunder Bay was never approved to be built by the local shaman, but investors and sales pushed forward. The need to make money kept the shaman's advice buried and tragedy happened. Jenna's life is now filled with therapists, medication, and alcohol, all in hopes to rebuild some type of life, but nothing seems quite right. One night two years later, Jenna is compelled to travel to Alaska from Seattle, leaving her husband and strained marriage behind at a party of co-workers with no idea of where she went.
What follows is an incredible mixture of Native American tradition and culture with a searing mystery and deep love, loss, and sadness. I was perplexed and drawn into the mystery of the kushtaka and felt the creepy and prickly fear of looking over my shoulder as I learned about lost souls, native rituals and the Tlingit shaman strength to protect the land and people. My heart broke for Jenna as she struggled to understand what happened on "that day," how Native American legend may play a part of it, and I was completely racing with page-turning anxiety any time she was alone in a hotel room, the forest, or on the Alaskan shoreline. Is Jenna crazy or is the legend of the shapeshifting kushtaka true? And could the dog that saved her life really be something much more?
Garth Stein has captured an atmosphere within Raven Stole the Moon that is memorable and spooky -- a re-released debut novel that effortlessly combines a story of true loss and one woman's path while grieving, with the supernatural touch of true Native American culture. I could not put this one down, and read it within a couple of days. If I didn't have that pesky day job, it would easily have been finished in one sitting, as I enjoyed it so.
My only wish? We've all chatted about how a good book cover really draws you in -- so probably my only gripe (minor) would be that the cover more accurately reflected something that was more authentic to the overall storyline -- the Native American culture is almost its own character in the story, and the cover, while evoking a certain sense of loss, really doesn't represent the beauty of the culture that provides that mysterious edge.
This is one to read at the fireside and have your dog or cat by your side to let you know if you really should pay attention to the bristling hairs on the back of your neck...
Coffee and a Book Chick