Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Raven Stole the Moon: Review and Giveaway

Reading about odd, otter-like creatures with black eyes and crooked, brown teeth who travel between spiritual realms and change into human forms was not exactly what I had on my weekly agenda. I'd never heard of the kushtaka, nor the Tlingit Indians of Alaska, and I wasn't sure about shamans, shape-shifters, or the Land of Dead Souls.

But I did feel privileged to have been asked to review Raven Stole the Moon by Garth Stein, author of the NY Times bestseller, The Art of Racing in the Rain, so I opened my mind--and the book. Raven Stole the Moon was the author’s debut novel, published in 1998, which is now being re-released by HarperCollins.

Even the best of marriages would suffer tremendously from the death of a young child. Raven Stole the Moon is the story of a married couple, Jenna and Robert, bereaved parents who lost their young son, Bobby, in a drowning accident at Thunder Bay in Alaska.

"She had sworn never to set foot in the state of Alaska again. Two years ago, as she flew away from the place where her heart had been ripped from her body. Where her very soul had been crushed. Where her spirit had drowned with her baby. She swore she would never go again."
~Raven Stole the Moon, Garth Stein

Although Jenna had resolved to never return to Alaska, she finds herself leaving her husband and home in Seattle and boarding the ferry, which takes her from Bellingham, Washington to the town of Wrangell, Alaska, home of her long deceased grandmother. (A ferry to Alaska! I was ready to board the Columbia--what an exciting trip that would be! Everyone camps out for a few days on the ship, tries to stay warm, and attempts to sleep comfortably. It would surely be an adventure.) Still grieving and feeling unsettled about her marriage, Jenna is mysteriously drawn back to Alaska, and her trip becomes a quest for answers which surround the mystery and horror of her son's death. Jenna befriends a dog, Oscar, and rents a room from a local fisherman, Eddie, and soon enters into a world which features the supernatural, menacing shape-shifting spirits, the kushtaka, of Tlingit myth and legend.

Garth Stein's first book brought to mind the work of Stephen King, mainly because of the magical realism. Along with Jenna and other characters, I gradually suspended my disbelief and doubts, and considered the possibility that reality may be more supernatural, strange, and unknowable than previously thought. The author's great-grandmother was a full-blooded Tlingit, and he learned about the Indian legends by reading and listening to the stories his uncles and aunts told around campfires. Garth Stein adeptly weaves these magical elements into a refreshingly original, gripping, and moving story. Raven Stole the Moon is also about relationships, about the bonds between husbands and wives, mothers and sons, and grandmothers and granddaughters, which may last beyond physical death. The best stories touch me, and I wept near the end of this one.

Exciting news! The publisher is generously offering a copy of this book as a giveaway (U.S./Canada only).
  • To enter this giveaway, simply leave a comment.
  • For an extra chance at winning, become a follower of this blog, or let me know that you're already a follower.
  • For an additional chance, post about this contest on your blog, Facebook, or Twitter.
Enter by 5 PM PDT on Monday, March 29. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced on Tuesday, March 30. Good luck!

Special thanks to Sarah from Terra Communications for sending me this book.


  1. I'd love to win a copy of this book! It sounds intriguing.

    I'm already a follower!

    Tweet: http://twitter.com/afewmorepages/status/10233789961

    srfbluemama at gmail dot com

  2. I agree with you - any book that evokes emotions is a good one. Please enter me. milou2ster(at)gmail.com

  3. Sounds like a great story for a screenplay :-)

  4. This does sound like a good one. I like that theres magical elements to the story.
    Please enter me, thanks :)

    p.s. lol, thanks for 'The Most Romantic Book Blog' award! my blog buddies all know i'm a sucker for romance...lol.

  5. I definitely have to read this book!

    I'm already a follower.

    reading_frenzy at yahoo dot com

  6. Chris from Stuff As Dreams Are Made On was talking about this book recently! It sounds really interesting. I'd love to be entered.

    And if it counts, I follow you through Google Reader, just not through the "following" system. If that's okay, I'll take the extra point. If not, no big deal. :)

  7. I love a contest!! I am already a follower and have posted on my blog!!
    The book is not something I would normally be drawn to..but I am drawn to it..great review!!

  8. No need to enter me. I was part of this tour as well. It looks like you enjoyed it quite a bit more than I did. I really enjoyed the first half but I guess I'm not into magical realism. For me the two halves of the book fought with each other a bit.

    Nice review though.

  9. I enjoyed reading your concise review.

    No need to enter me in the giveaway. I did read this book right after, The Art of Racing in the Rain, and so for me, it left me disappointed as I really loved Enzo and his story.

  10. Sounds like a very interesting book-thanks for sharing it with us

  11. Thank you all for your comments, and good luck to those who entered the contest. All my followers are appreciated--following on Google Reader does give you an extra chance at winning. :)

    I'm really looking forward to reading The Art of Racing in the Rain (and am glad I read this book first; I like to see the evolution of authors).

    Additional comments welcomed. :)

  12. I don't live in the USA or Canada, but this sounds like a fascinating book. Anything to do with Native American lore for some reason draws me in.

    The Reader
    I'm a Bookworm

  13. Thank you for the chance to win!

    I am a follower

    hcmurdoch (at) gmail (dot) com

  14. +1 Thank you for the chances.

    +1 already a follower publicly.
    +1 tweet; http://twitter.com/fredalicious/status/10280436826


  15. No need to enter me, babe. I'm dropping in to say thanks for the e-mail. I've got this posted at Win a Book for you.

  16. I'd like to be included, count me in! tWarner419@aol.com

  17. I'm a follower.
    amandarwest at gmaildotcom

  18. blog follower
    mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

  19. Sounds good! Please enter me in the giveaway.
    mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

  20. Please enter me in the contest & thx..

  21. I'm in, I LOVED The Art of Racing in the Rain.

    teddyr66 at yahoo dot com

  22. I dont reside in the US but hve an address I use for giveaways. If this is allowed please count me in for this book - though sad it sounds intriguing as well.


  23. I'd like a chance to read this book -it looks interesting.
    baileythebookworm at gmail dot com

  24. Please count me in!
    I'm already a follower :)
    Thank you

    vision.nguyen AT gmail DOT com

  25. No need to enter me in the giveaway, as I already read the book. Just popping in to say that I loved your review and thought that you did the book great justice. I am glad that you liked the book so much!

  26. Please enter me. I follow w/ Google Reader.



  27. No need to enter me ... I recently reviewed this book as well. I don't think I liked it as a much as you ... but it does go into the realm of Stephen King doesn't it? Good review!

  28. Please count me in.

    thank you

    chocolate and croissants at yahoo dot com

  29. Please enter me! vvperesk@gmail.com

  30. I am a new follower :) vvperesk@gmail.com

  31. I totally think that was a great review.. And I so want to read this one! I am sure I will enjoy it!

    Don't enter me..

  32. Sounds like it has a little bit of everything. I haven't read any of his books, though I do have his other one. Thanks for the giveaway. I'm a follower.

    Diary of an Eccentric


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