Friday, December 10, 2010

A master story teller's masterful story about loss and love and mystery

Garth Stein: Raven Stole the Moon, Harper, 2010.

Raven Stole the Moon, Garth Stein’s first novel, first published in 1998, was released in a new edition earlier this year, and I couldn’t be happier, because I love this novel. I was immersed in it from the first sentence … no, from before the first sentence … it was the word Akákoschi! (Tlingit for “See”) that caught my eye on a page I almost missed. From that I was hooked until the very last word 441 pages later.

Raven Stole the Moon is the story of Jenna Rosen and her haunting, poignant search to understand her son’s drowning in Thunder Bay, Alaska two years earlier so she can put it behind her and move on with her life. Was it her fault? Was it her husband’s fault? Was there something else involved? It’s is an obsession that her husband doesn’t understand and wishes she’d get over and get on with life, because it’s driving him crazy and tearing them apart. So one night she drives away and takes a ferry to Wrangel and begins her search for answers and for understanding. Along the way she meets a mysterious old Indian woman, falls in love, is chased through the woods by a Tlingit spirit called a kushtaka, is rescued by a dog that chases the kushtaka away, meets a shaman and finally … well, buy the book, jump in, find out for yourself and enjoy the adventure.

Raven Stole the Moon is a wonderful read. It’s rare that I read a novel that breaks into my dreams, but this one did – a dream with a shaman and spirits and the smell of rain and mist, forest, sea and fish. Garth Stein is that kind of story teller.

His next novel, by the way, is a Pacific Northwest ghost story. I have no idea when it’s to be published, but as soon as it is, I’ll definitely buy a copy and lose myself in it.


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