Email this review


Ingratiating, mildly spooky thriller debut about feckless yuppies whose mythic escapades with creepy Tlingit bogeymen lead to romance and redemption. Two years after her four-year-old son drowns beneath the dark waters off the Alaskan coastal town of Wrangell, Jenna Rosen is still tortured by feelings of guilt and loss. Fleeing her boorishly insensitive husband, Robert, a thriving Seattle real-estate broker, she drives his prized BMW aimlessly throughout the night. Eventually, she ditches the car and, after a few carefree swipes of her credit card, acquires a new wardrobe from Banana Republic and a ticket on an Alaskan ferry that takes her back to Wrangell and the boarded-up house where her part-Tlingit grandmother died. Meanwhile, in another part of Wrangell, professional Tlingit shaman Dr. David Livingstone (who quietly endures numerous ""I presume"" greetings) encounters many ""stolen souls"" haunting a new tourist hunting lodge. Hired at the behest of Japanese investors by the resort's disbelieving project manager, Livingstone finds the area filled with kushtaka--mythological, otterlike shape-changers that snatch the souls of people who've died without being cremated, or who've merely become lost in a dank, woodsy never-never land where these souls are rapidly transformed into even more kushtaka. Back in Seattle, Robert is suddenly terrified to be without his wife and hires Joey, a repugnant private detective, to find her. Joey does find Jenna--in the arms of twentysomething Alaskan slacker/fisherman, a new romantic interest that'll give her the courage to join up with Oscar, the friendly spirit dog, and the (literally) presumptuous Dr. Livingstone, to snatch back her dead son's soul. A supernatural thriller with an alternately satiric and solemn take on New Age spirituality. At best, more pleasing than profound.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0061806382
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Pocket