I received one of the most amazing gifts this December, and it wasn’t a Christmas present. It was The Raven’s Gift by Don Rearden, a book every Alaskan and anyone wanting to know about Alaska should read…. or anyone who wants to cry and smile, be thrilled and terrified, despairing and hopeful. Basically, anyone who wants an awesome story with an important message tucked in the passages and pages should go get a copy.
A highly contagious and deadly disease—a mutation of the bird flu—results in a quarantine of the entire state of Alaska, trapping two teachers living out in a remote Native village. And that’s when the truly horrible things start to happen. Death hunts the characters in many forms: sickness, suicide, murder, cannibalism, and even in the shape of an actual hunter, a ghost-like assassin on skis. The story becomes a quest for survival through a cold, dark land where nothing seems safe or sacred anymore. But looks can be deceiving….
The Raven’s Gift is not for the faint of heart (much like Alaska), but (also like Alaska), you’ll come out of it feeling stronger and more alive. The book forces the reader to face some unpleasant truths about the very real, dismal conditions out in Native villages and the responsibility of white exploiters for those conditions, and about the ugly side of human nature—our ability to cannibalize our own when the going gets rough. But the story is also about triumphing over such dysfunction in unique ways, about finding love, hope, healing and compassion in the darkest of situations.
Unfortunately, the book is somewhat hard to find if you’re not in Canada, Alaska, or Australia, since it’s published through Penguin Canada. You can try to order it through your local bookstore, or check out Amazon Canada, where it’s much cheaper than Amazon.com! Trust me, it’s worth a little extra effort.