Not long ago a great Booklist review suddenly appeared on the Amazon Page of The Raven’s Gift. In today’s world it can be incredibly difficult to get a review anywhere and I was fortunate to land some incredible reviews here at home in Alaska and one giant one in The Washington Post. Naturally that one surprised the hell out of me, but this review came as a surprise because I never heard about my novel landing a Booklist review until the review appeared. I think most writers are savvy enough to have Google Alerts in place to catch reviews good and bad (and damn, I’ve been crazy fortunate in the good department), but one thing I’ve learned is to also have a few alerts for your name misspelled. When I figured that out I learned The Raven’s Gift had been selected as a Top Five Summer Reads for Dudes! And of course I learned this around October that same year. Things like this help with publicity, when you get a chance to publicize them, right? At times this sort of discovery can be frustrating when the news comes too late, but my agent has been keen to point out to me that good reviews and book lists don’t go away. I’ve remembered that.
Back to the Booklist review. I appreciate what the reviewer, Connie Fletcher had to say, and I really loved the imagery of the last line:
This is part dystopian survival tale, part Jack London wilderness saga, and part Stephen King/Michael Crichton–style suspense story. Holding it all together, and making this much more than a what happens when people can’t defend against a massive threat exercise, is Alaska native Rearden’s deep knowledge of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta and the culture of the Yupik Eskimos living there. Rearden takes an adventurous, idealistic young couple (John and Anna), gives them jobs as first-year teachers, and plunks them in a tiny village in a tiny home free of all amenities. From the start, though, readers will know something is off: Why, in the scene before the couple’s job interview, are an unidentified man and woman crawling through the snow, looking for signs of life? The narrative consists of three separate time lines—what happened before almost everyone in the village disappeared; John and Anna’s first efforts to teach and adjust; and John’s desperate efforts to survive and return to Anna. This narrative mix is deliberately confusing, like following tracks in the snow, and just as engrossing. –Booklist, Connie Fletcher
I’ll take that review with a grin, and of course have no problems with the Jack London/Stephen King/Michael Crichton comparison! So who needs a timely “starred review” with those stars involved, right? Plus, this reviewer was kind enough to post the review on Amazon herself AND spell my name correctly.
Don Rearden grew up on the tundra of Southwestern Alaska, an experience that informed his critically acclaimed debut literary thriller The Raven’s Gift. While calling Don “a master of the cliffhanger” The Washington Post went on to praise the novel’s “hunter-hunted suspense of Geoffrey Household’s Rogue Male, the post-apocalyptic bleakness of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and the haunting mysteriousness of The X-Files.”
Stay tuned for more posts from Don Rearden and his upcoming Alaskan thriller only from The Rogue Reader.