Raven Stole the Moon by Garth Stein

This book took me forever and a half to read. I don’t know why I had such a hard time connecting with the characters. Maybe a large part of my problem was that the primary antagonists of the novel were a supernatural-ish race of characters called the Kushtaka. They are otter people. Otter people. I realize that they are based on deep-rooted Alaskan traditions, but Garth Stein’s treatment of those traditions tends to read more like a mocker than a respectful treatment of the culture. I know this wasn’t intended, thus the end result is an attempt at a serious novel that is exceptionally difficult to be taken seriously.

Jenna Rosen randomly abandons her husband at a party to take an impromptu trip to Alaska from their Seattle home. Two years prior, the couples’ son drowned at an Alaskan resort, so Jenna uses the opportunity to attempt to start healing from the death. Instead, she ends up shacking up with a hot fisherman whilst being tormented by a tribe of shape-shifting otter people. As it turns out, the key to putting her son’s soul to rest lies in the Kushtaka. Apparently, Karen simply must become one and make out with a Shaman to make this happen.

The Art of Racing in the Rain is compelling and genuinely emotional. As Raven Stole the Moon is the exact opposite, it’s difficult to believe that Stein is the author of both. And Racing came out first! Are Stein’s writing abilities declining with each new novel? A flukey failure? I’m not sure what the problem is, but Raven Stole the Moon is a meandering fecal mass that should be scraped off of one’s shoe and disposed of immediately.

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