A YA fantasy tells the story of a teen returning home to seek redemption.
High school basketball star Cole Harper hasn’t been back to his Canadian hometown of Wounded Sky in 10 years. But when a friend from childhood asks him to return, he can’t bring himself to refuse. When he arrives, it becomes clear that it isn’t just Cole who has been harboring ill feelings in the intervening years. Many members of his First Nation band are still angry at Cole over how he survived the school fire that killed others long ago—and who he helped save during it. When Cole confronts Ashley, the friend who begged him to return, he learns that it was actually someone else using Ashley’s phone: an anthropomorphic coyote spirit who goes by the name of Choch. As surprised as Cole is to have a coyote talking to him, he recognizes that Choch is the same figure who appeared to him during the previous tragedy, offering him the power to save his friends at the cost of the deaths of others. Now he has a new offer for the teen: death is coming to Wounded Sky, and it will claim everyone in Cole’s band unless he can find a way to stop it. Aided by his two best friends from childhood as well as the ghost of another classmate and the coyote spirit himself, Cole must try to redeem his past by preserving the future for as many people as he can. In this series opener, Robertson (When We Were Alone, 2016, etc.) writes in a taut prose that harnesses sensory details to subtly accrue tension: “Sounds were more intimate inside the rink: the shred of metal against ice, the snap of wood against rubber, the collision of body against body, then body against board; and finally, the crowd and its fickle crescendo.” The tone deftly oscillates between moodiness and humor, capturing the angst of the tale’s teens without becoming self-serious. Though this is very much an archetypal story, the blend of Native American fantasy elements and a noirish Canadian setting make this a memorable addition to the genre.
A promising first episode of a new series with a striking hero and a coyote spirit.