Raven Stole the Moon
Jenna and Robert Rosen were the picture of married bliss (operative being "were" but we'll get to that in a sec). Young enough to enjoy life, old enough to bypass some of the more common mistakes made, and matched enough to have completed their family with their wonderful little boy named Bobby. All seems well in paradise...well, sort of. While on the fast track and gaining more of the finer things in life, Robert gets swept into the chance of a life time. Invest a little (okay, not so little, more like $25,000) money in the Thunder Bay Resort and live the dream in his own version of a timeshare...they even throw in a free trip for the family to check it all out! Not too shabby, huh? Well, there is one small (nope...make that LARGE) detail that's been left out. This wonderful new fishing-hunting-village/resort was built on land inhabited by spirits of the Tlingit (pronounced "KLIN-kit") people and despite their tendancies being neither evil nor good, it does not mean they take kindly to uninvited visitors. Something was bound to happen, the shaman told them as much after the initial cleansing of the land went awry...nearly tearing his soul from the land of the living and leaving it in the hands of the kushtaka for an eternity of restless wandering within their service.
The combination of vivid characters with their less than perfect pasts revealed slowly through the march of time and memories allows the reader to become acquaintences first, friends later. You will feel the heartache experienced by Jenna and her family at the loss (or is it?) of their little boy. You'll grow to love the ill-timed meeting of Eddie, her Alaskan love interest. Each time the two of them are close, the tension is so high level, it radiates off the page. Oscar, the more-than-meets-the-eye dog she rescues from the hands of uncertainty...only to rescued herself. Author Garth Stein took a realistic situation combined it with beliefs based in the Tlingit history, and delivers a story that is fictional enough to enjoy, and yet realistic enough to be felt (and inspire some research of your own).
Reading this story, I was totally reminded of a book I read in an airport once about 10 years ago. I was bored and we were having an extended layover due to some issue or another and so I picked a book from the little gift store and began to read. I think the title was...no wait...GASP! I just found it! (Yay for Google and perseverance!) It's called Keeper of Dreams by Lynn Armistead McKee. It's not that the story is that similar, it's merely another unexpected good read I happened upon that had native beliefs at its base. For some reason or another, that aspect of "magic" or folklore seems to hit harder at times...perhaps because we know the people from the stories exist or existed and so why not the mystic lore surrounding them. (*ponders*) Interesting fact....this story was actually written (originally) thirteen years ago AND much of the lore included was pulled from his heritage. That's right....blood-wise he is from the Tlingit lines, though raised with mere glimpses of its presence...yet another tie that blurs the line between fact and fiction.
Regarding the content of the book....I'd list the recommended reading age as later teens to adult as there are a few instances sensual in nature, not to mention the kushtaka can definitely form a rather frightening picture in our minds eye. If you haven't read a book of this nature before, I would recommend doing so....it's really a fun experience. Afterwards, you may feel inclined to research some of the aspects of the story that appealed to you more than others and that's the beauty of this type of book...there is more information to find.
Have you ever read a fiction book that combined native beliefs with the story line similar to this? If so, feel free to share the title/author and what you thought in the comments below! (If not, no worries....I like general chatter in the comments too.)
Until next time....happy reading!