Robertson (Strangers, 2018, etc.) returns to the adventures of First Nations teenager Cole Harper in this supernatural YA sequel.
Cole is still in Wounded Sky First Nation after helping to end a murder spree and cure a local epidemic in the previous series installment. He’s grieving the death of some friends, and he continues to struggle with anxiety. Luckily, he still has some pals to lean on: his classmates Eva and Brady, as well as Pam, a girl he’s just starting to get to know at his new school. Other acquaintances include Jayne, a teenage ghost who’s mysteriously gone missing; and Choch, a coyote spirit who appears to be Cole’s gym teacher. Cole doesn’t have much time to settle in at school before things start to get crazy again. A new terror is stalking Wounded Sky: a creature wandering Blackwood Forest at night, which locals are identifying as “Upayokwitigo.” “It means He Who Lives Alone in Cree,” explains Eva, although even getting people to say the name is difficult—it’s regarded as a curse. As Cole investigates the creature, he also tries to figure out why so many strangers are showing up at the local health clinic; he also wants to get to the bottom of what caused the accident that killed his father 10 years ago. Can Cole stare down the monsters that haunt him—from within and from without? Robertson’s prose effectively captures the magical balance of humor and spookiness that brings good supernatural fantasy novels to life. As a result, his lively characters are easy for readers to latch onto. At one point, for example, Brady amusingly grouses to Cole: “Every single person who’s seen that thing has seen it in the woods, at night. At night, which it is right now, and in the woods, which is where you’re talking about going.” The plot of this installment builds directly on that of the previous volume; this setup makes the beginning a little slow and sluggish, as old characters and animosities get reintroduced and rehashed. The ending, however, is so unexpected that readers will eagerly anticipate a third volume.
A satisfying continuation of a moody, stylish series.