A teenage girl does battle with a demon from the spirit realm in LeDuc’s (Cursed Presence,2015, etc.) YA adventure.
As a Caucasian foundling growing up on a Cree reservation in Florida, Pamoon has always been different from those around her. But on her 16th birthday, she learns just how different she really is. An ancient ritual gone terribly wrong has unleashed a violent demon into the world, and Pamoon is the only one who can force him back into the spirit realm from whence he came. Like any teenager would, she reacts to the news of her destiny with a mix of confusion, fear, and defiance. But as she journeys to the Spirit Cave to learn how to defeat the kanontsistonties (a winged, flying skull from Iroquois mythology) and save the souls of her kidnapped friends, she comes to accept her role. In this first entry in a planned series, LeDuc creates a strong, compelling heroine and action-packed sequences that will keep readers turning pages. The opening scene, in which a group of drunk, teenage boys inadvertently summon the demon, is the stuff of classic horror, while dramatic fight sequences raise the tension effectively. There’s even a budding romance between Pamoon and an exiled young warrior. Unfortunately, the book relies on a jumble of generic signifiers of Native American culture that seem to have been drawn more from old Hollywood movies than any single group’s unique traditions: characters dress in buckskin and wear turquoise, are referred to as a “young brave,” shoot bows and arrows, and throw tomahawks. The story is set in Florida, but confusingly, the Native American characters are described as Cree, a nation with no historic connection to the state. Pamoon herself falls squarely into white-savior territory; she’s said to be the “girl as white as the winter snow” who, according to legend, “would one day come and save us all.” Still, this is a creatively told supernatural thriller from a talented writer; the settings are vivid, especially in LeDuc’s vision of the spirit world.
A well-crafted novel hampered by a reliance on troubling stereotypes.