I don’t read a lot of paranormal books. I used to: I’ve been a vampire fan since the first time I read Dracula when I was a teenager, and I read and adored all of Anne Rice’s Lestat books. Once, me and my husband had a semi-argument about what paranormal creature was the best: I voted for vampire, he for zombies, and a friend of ours (who were recently divorced at the time) got annoyed and snapped at us If this is the worst problem you’ve got in your marriage, you need to shut up. 😁 (Hint: it wasn’t!)
But somewhere along the road my love for the paranormal was replaced by a preference for contemporary, so I’m very picky with my paranormal these days.
Which probably is why I didn’t realize at first what I gem I’d found in this week’s book…
The year is 1618, and Allakau is different from the other members of the Alaskan Yupik tribe. His people survive by hunting, but Allakau is unable to kill or eat flesh. As another season reaches its end and winter approaches, Allakau encounters a narwhal with silver eyes similar to his own. He saves the creature’s life but incurs his father’s wrath, and Allakau is given one last chance to prove himself a productive part of the tribe or be left behind to die. As he spends time alone in the woods, clues about his past and destiny begin to fall into place with the aid of another silver-eyed creature. His hunt might finally lead him to the truth about what sets him apart and where he belongs—if he can survive it.
I read this book for the first time last year, after I’d found and loved Teddy Bears by the same author and gone hunting for more books written by him. I liked it a lot…but not in the way that I wanted to scream it from the rooftops. But as time passed, I found I couldn’t let it go. I constantly thought about it, about how it had made me feel when I read it. So I re-read it. Twice. This year.
And MAN, was I wrong the first time. I DO love it in a scream-it-from-the-rooftops kind of way!
I love it so much I don’t really know how to put it into words.
Allakau is very different from his family and the rest of the tribe. He’s sensitive and feels a connection to animals in such a prominent way he can’t kill any living creature or eat their flesh. This causes him problems with his father and brother who are hunters (as the rest of the tribe) and want him to be a productive member of the tribe, something that requires him to hunt.
Once, when they’re out at sea, a narwhal breaks the surface and the encounter with the creature leaves Allakau rocked to his core. An accident related to the encounter makes Allakau’s father give him an ultimatum: he has three days to finally kill something, anything, or he will be left behind.
Allakau sets out into the forest, knowing he won’t be able to obey his father’s command. Knowing that in three days time, he will have to leave his family behind. But there, in the forest, he meets the narwhal again…just not in a way he’d ever expected.
This book is magic. It has a dreamy, fairytale-ish quality about it that leaves me breathless. I feel the images Brandon Witt paints with his words in my heart. There’s a scene where Allakau walks in the forest after he’s been injured, and wild animals start following him. They seem to understand him when he talks to them and as they encounter an injured caribou, Allakau offers her the only thing he’s got: his body heat and his life. I cry ugly, heart-wrenching tears every time I read this scene. I want to climb into the book and curl around the injured Allakau and take care of him. Defend him from his family that doesn’t understand him (with the exceptions of his mother) and make everything right for him.
It took me three reads to understand how great this book is. To make me realize that it’s among my all-time favorite reads. Buy it. Read it. And if you come across another book like it, with the same magical feeling as this one, tell me AT ONCE because I’ll want to read it.
Five glorious, magical stars.