Haunting and touching without being overly sentimental.
When a real estate developer, John Fergusen, wanted to build Thunder Bay Resort near the town of Klawock, Alaska, an area rich in Native American culture, he was advised to seek the counsel of a Tlingit shamen by the name of David Livingstone to "spiritually cleanse" the area on which the resort was to be built. This was to keep them from a "situation"...although not sure if he is referring to "a lawsuit-type situation or The Shining-type situation?"
Despite David Livingstone's recommendation "to abandon the Thunder Bay project immediately," Fergusen buried the warning and went ahead with a pre-opening weekend to get investors interested in the resort - a weekend that resulted in the drowning of a little boy. Tragic accident or unhappy spirits?
Two years later, Jenna, the mother of the little boy, left a dinner party in Seattle and kept on driving until she ended up in Alaska. Is she running away? Is she looking for answers? Is she looking for her son? Is she looking for her own past in her grandmother's old home? Is she looking for peace? Is she looking for love? Whatever Jenna thought she might have been looking for, she finds more than she bargained for.
There was a part of me that heard echoes of Poltergeist (building on sacred land) and feared that Raven Stole the Moon was going to take an absurd turn, but I got caught up in the storyline and welcomed the Native American folklore. The stories about Raven were really cool. Native Americans have a story for everything in order to find meaning in nature. Raven gave us the moon, the sun and the stars, but not without sacrifice.
In fact, I enjoyed the stories of Raven even more than the present-day story of Jenna and her quest for truth and acceptance. When the two stories collide, Garth Stein does an amazing job of keeping everything both heartfelt and mysterious, with just a touch of the supernatural. This had the potential of becoming a big mess, but in fact, what starts out as a frayed story, comes together in the end.
Raven Stole the Moon is Garth Stein's first novel, which was news to me, as I had only read The Art of Racing in the Rain, which I loved. When I was asked to read and review another of Stein's novels, first, last or middle, it didn't matter, I jumped at the chance. Raven Stole the Moon did not knock my socks off like The Art of Racing in the Rain did, but Stein did not disappoint either. This novel has been out of print, but has been re-released and is now available in paperback. Stein is a wonderful storyteller, and blends a modern heartbreaking tale with Native American folklore beautifully.
Please keep your eyes open for Garth Stein giveaways!
FTC Statement: A review copy of this book was provided by the publicist.