When Cole Harper is compelled to return to Wounded Sky First Nation, he finds his community in chaos: a series of shocking murders, a mysterious illness ravaging the residents, and reemerging questions about Cole’s role in the tragedy that drove him away 10 years ago. With the aid of an unhelpful spirit, a disfigured ghost, and his two oldest friends, Cole tries to figure out his purpose, and unravel the mysteries he left behind a decade ago. Will he find the answers in time to save his community?
Strangers is the first novel in The Reckoner series by David Alexander Robertson, award–winning writer, and author of High Water Press’ acclaimed children’s book When We Were Alone.
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PRICE $19.95 (USD)
MY BOOK REVIEW:
I received this book in exchange for my honest review.
A great YA Cree First Nations mystery with a great Protagonist with strange, supernatural abilities. A spirit, sometimes a coyote and sometimes a man, urges Cole to return to his previous home on the reservation, which his parents don’t wish him to do.
Surrounded by fantastically developed secondary characters that successfully move the Protagonist toward his goals, this main character faces many challenges including bullying, and a secret past trauma that Cole struggles with daily. He is hated and resented and unwelcomed upon his return to the reservation he grew up on.
There’s something unique and different about Cole. There’s a gay relationship between friends, a secret kept from Cole, hatred, hatred, resentment… whew!
I especially loved ‘grandma’ and all her wisdom and insight. First Nations’ struggles throughout Canadian history/society is included to fit the story, but this is definitely a character driven story.
I like the true history/fiction mix, it takes a real talent to combine the two in a believable story, but the characters were not overwhelmed by it. You’ll read Cree language with included translations and about aboriginal culture and life on a reservation. Again, none of this takes away from the story but actually enhances its atmosphere, drawing the reader in to become invested in what is happening to the characters. The writing is strong and character development the main focus so the setting doesn’t diminish the message the author is conveying throughout. You can relate to the characters, getting inside their heads and feeling the emotional rides they are on when dealing with various issues including those surrounding the past. Friendships Cole had to leave behind after a fire, are examined and broken down as well as how Cole has changed and who he’s become. Loyalty, trust, inner-strength and understanding the relationships with the adults in his life that are keeping secrets is also addressed throughout the book. There’s an inner struggle of doing what is right and doing what is expected going inside Cole.
I especially enjoyed the trickster spirit, Choch. He came across as engaging, funny and very interesting and you’ll want to know more about him. His sections in the book added comic relief without taking away from the tension, yet keeping the story on the lighter side of things without allowing the plot to go darker than it was.
Cole is deemed both a hero and a villain in the book, in a typical “can’t save everyone” scenario. He is resented for this action and hated by many. That’s a lot of stress and tension in itself for a teenager to deal with, which he does admirably.
I loved this book. It’s an excellent insight into the Cree culture and an overall good mystery! It appears to be the first in a trilogy, so I’m looking forward to reading the sequel.
I gave this book:
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