Monday, March 8, 2010

Raven Stole the Moon by Garth Stein

Garth Stein's third novel, The Art of Racing in the Rain, was a huge success. It was so successful, that I do believe a movie is being made as a result. In order to capitalize on Stein's success, his publishers have decided to re-release his first novel. Originally published in 1998, Raven Stole the Moon, tells the story of Jenna Rosen. Two years ago at the Thunder Bay Resort, near Wrangell, Alaska (the hometown of her Native American grandmother), Jenna's young son, Bobby, disappeared. She has no idea what happened to him, let alone what happened to his soul. Unable to let go of her grief, Jenna suddenly decides that she must go back to Wrangell. And she must go now. Leaving her husband at a party they were attending together, Jenna hops into their car and soon finds herself heading towards her past. Once in Wrangell, Jenna becomes involved with a local fisherman, gets threatened by the Kushtakas (spirits that steals souls) and schooled about the Kushtakas by a shaman. She soon realizes that Bobby's soul has been captured by the Kushtakas and she must now find a way to aid Bobby's soul to the Land of the Dead Souls, where he will finally be able to rest.

Stein has created a novel that is both interesting and engaging. We have the undying love of a mother, Native American legends, a marriage riddled with grief and unhappiness and the Alaskan wilderness. Jenna Rosen is a character that you can't help but befriend. You feel her sadness and want her to pull through this journey of rescue, because not only is she saving her son's soul, but she is also saving herself in the process. The rest of the characters in the book are written so vividly and accurately, that you can easily visualize them. In fact, it is through these textured characters that we are introduced to the various Tlingit legends, which I believe helped make the spiritual aspect of the novel accessible. As for the Alaskan backdrop, Stein has clearly captured the wilderness and small town feel of Wrangell. The tone and strength of Stein's writing and voice are well defined in this debut novel. In fact, I believe that from the first page of the novel, Stein easily draws you into Jenna Rosen's world. You want to find out why this woman is thinking about drowning herself in the tub and why the notion of survival instinct is inherent in her thoughts. How did Jenna Rosen get to this mindset?

Raven Stole the Moon is definitely a book that I would highly recommend. It is not my usual book fare, but I am truly glad that I decided to give it a go. Based on this book, I will be picking up Stein's other works and adding them to my TBR list. Thank you, Sarah at Terra Communications for providing me with my advanced copy of Raven Stole the Moon. The book will be re-released tomorrow, March 9, 2010.


Sarah Daily said...

Thank you for mentioning me, Nadia. It was my pleasure to share this book with you. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Unknown said...

Hey Nadia,

Great review! The book sounds very interesting, and I can't wait to pick it up!

Canada said...

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.