Kizis tells the story of a fateful interaction between humans and wolves in the Alaskan wilderness in this debut novel.
Morgan Greene, a 30-something newspaper journalist and practitioner of aikido, moves to Anchorage, Alaska, to feel close to the wilderness. She’s about to feel even closer. She sets out with three friends on a four-night trek up Matanuska-Susitna Valley to see Denali. “Yes, all four of us have extensive wilderness experience, else we wouldn’t be trying such a trip in the first place, especially not this late in the year,” explains Morgan. “In much of the world, mid- to late September is no big deal, but in Alaska, in any part of Alaska, September is a time of reckoning.” Her companions are her three best friends: Mariska, an academic of Athabascan descent; Dave, an ornery paramedic; and Jack, a jovial world traveler. Unbeknownst to the quartet, they are heading into territory occupied by two wolf packs: the Fire Creek, who have recently been beset by a pair of hunters, and the Chelatna, a powerful group led by two alphas. The fate of these three packs—one human, two wolf—becomes unexpectedly intertwined. Their journey will reawaken the ancient fear and fascination people have had for wolves…and maybe teach them what survival in Alaska is really about. Kizis’ prose is as expansive as the story’s landscape, weaving history, biology, and travelogue into his novel to give it the feel of a modern epic. The narration shifts between Morgan’s first-person perspective and a third-person that follows the movement of the wolves. The book is less an adventure story than a meditative exploration of the relationship of humans and nature; its 425-plus pages are full of digressions and heady conversations. Even so, it reads quickly and is rarely boring.
A thoughtful, ambitious story of hikers and wolves in Alaska.