13 September 2010

Raven Stole the Moon, by Garth Stein

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...

Happy Reading!
Coffee and a Book Chick


  1. This is going on my TBR List, thanks!

  2. This sounds very good! I still need to get to The Art of Racing in the Rain, too...

  3. @ Joann -- I enjoyed this quite a bit! Let me know what you think of it as well!

    @ JoAnn -- I know, I still can't believe I haven't read The Art of Racing in the Rain either! :)

  4. Ooh, this one sounds good! And, yet again (as per my review) book covers can really make or break a book when deciding whether or not to pick one up can't they?

    I agree about those pesky jobs too! pah!

  5. This sounds good! I liked The Art of Racing in the Rain so I'm sure I would like this as well. Thanks :)

  6. @ The Book Whisperer -- Absolutely, a book cover can draw the right (or the wrong crowd) in -- when I finished the book and wrote the review, I kept looking back at the cover and saying, "why?" The book is so god and has so many elements to it and the mystery of it isn't captured in that cover, unfortunately.

    @ Brenna -- I need to read The Art of Racing in the Rain! I'm just worried that I'm going to cry hysterically -- any time a dog dies in a book, I tend to hyperventilate over that much more than when a person passes in a story. (Although I do hyperventilate too, just not as much!) :)

  7. I read this book, but only after reading The Art of Racing in the Rain (which I loved). This one was a bit of a disappointment for me.

    I'm glad it worked for you.

  8. @ Bibliophile y the Sea -- I wonder if my perspective would have been different, too, if I read The Art of Racing in the Rain first? I guess I'm going to have to check it out now! :)

  9. Oh I am definitely putting this on my TBR list. I love reading about the Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest. It sounds fantastic.

  10. This sounds great! I've never read anything from this author. I will have to add this to my wishlist.

  11. I love The Art of Racing in the Rain, so I've been looking forward to this book. Glad to see you loved it so much.

  12. I really liked this one a lot, and I haven't read The Art of Racing in the Rain. It's my city's One Book, One Community choice this year (Racing in the Rain, I mean). I was surprised to be so taken with the Native American legend in this one. It was really well done.

    I gave you an award on my blog! Whee!

  13. @ Carin B. -- It really is fantastic, let me know what you think!

    @ Mrs Q: Book Addict -- Let me know what you think!

    @ bermudaonion -- I'd be interested to hear what your thoughts are on this, too!

    @ Andi -- I agree, I thought it was really well done and it was the initial debut novel for the author back in 1998. I'm glad to see that it's being re-released again in today's market, I think it fits much better. And I won an award? Yay me!! :)

  14. Ooooh, I love your new header! Did I miss where you told us the story behind it? It's perfect for your blog title!! (I hope it really is new and I'm not just imagining things . . . )

  15. @ Kathy -- Thanks!! Nope, you're not imagining things!! :) No story, I just have been changing up the appearance of the blog so much lately! I'm getting a full "blog-over" in October, which I can't wait for, so I'm just playing with stuff now!

  16. ooooh this one sounds perfect for the season! I'm in Cherokee country here and love the imagery and feelings true Native American art can evoke....I also lived in Alaska for a year growing up so love the culture and desolate landscape along the beach of the Aleutian Island we lived on. Must read this one!

  17. @ Stacy at a Novel Source -- How jealous I am of you that you are surrounded by Native American culture! And you lived in Alaska, too? I couldn't be greener with envy -- visiting Alaska in some of the sections identified in the novel sounds like a dream come true! Let me know what you think of this one if you do read it!


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