1. Raven Stole the Moon by Garth Stein
This is Garth’s debut novel written before The Art of Racing in the Rain. It tells the story of Jenna Rosen and her husband Robert in the aftermath of their son’s untimely and tragic death. One day Jenna decides to leave her life and go to Wrangell, Alaska which is a hometown of her Native American grandmother. It also located very near the resort where Jenna’s six-year-old boy drowned two years ago. Now Jenna wants to put all her doubts, pain and past to rest but instead she learns of mysterious Tlingit Indian legend of death, shape shifting and the creation of the world that may open a whole new door of frightening possibilities that Jenna might not be strong enough to deal with. And she still has a failing marriage to fix that she thought she left behind for good.
Raven Stole the Moon is Mr. Stein’s shot at magical realism and while it’s not perfect, it definitely is worth reading. The animals play an important role in this story, just like in The Art of Racing in the Rain and we get to see how human relationships are never easy and how complicated we all really are. The beginning was a little difficult for me to get into as I was questioning where the story was going but I ‘got it’ soon enough and let myself enjoy the book till the end. I also did shed a few tears here and there. Being a mother myself, I couldn’t help feeling sad over Jenna and Robert’s losing of their son. Jenna’s dealing with the death is especially heartbreaking. All and all, it’s a good story and even if it lacks here and there (I think the problem is that The Art of Racing in the Rain was just so awesome that it invites comparisons which will always, inevitably fail on the side of his debut work), I think you should still give it a try especially if you’re interested in magic realism and Native American mythology.
Please visit the website, GoEnzo.com to watch Garth Stein talk about Raven Stole the Moon. It's very interesting what he has to say.
2. The Coral Thief by Rebecca Stott
This book takes us to post-revolutionary Paris of 1815. It’s also post-Napoleonic as the emperor is on his way to the island of St. Helena as an exile. Daniel Connor is just beginning his journey as a medical student from Edinburgh. He enters Paris with a quite unfortunate story to tell. His naiveté cost him dearly as he got robbed by a mysterious woman. But instead of money, she stole the corals, letters of introduction and a manuscript of his mentor’s. All of these items were supposed to be delivered safely to the famous Dr. Cuvier. But now that they’re gone, Daniel’s career is in jeopardy and his despair makes him think of turning back in shame to Edinburgh. But Paris enchants Daniel with its free thought. And the thief comes back into his life to show Daniel that nothing is black and white in life and in science. She is indeed a philosopher and a scientist herself but became a coral thief for a deeper purpose than just stealing for profit.
Stott’s first book, Ghostwalk, was a huge disappointment to me, so I honestly didn’t expect much from The Coral Thief either. But I must say, I was pleasantly surprised. Granted, it still is not a novel that will appeal to everyone. There is a lot of unnecessary passages to seem to have no purpose and stall the plot a bit but overall, the writing is quite good and I really liked Lucienne, the coral thief. There was just something about her, maybe her spirit, her courage or just her personality, that really appealed to me and I think held the whole story together. And one more important thing is that Ms Stott really transported me to 1815 Paris. I felt I walked among the young and restless minds who questioned everything (including the revolution and how far it went and how many lives it cost) and wanted to know more and learn more.
Make sure to come back on Sunday. I will be giving away my copy of Raven Stole the Moon + a red umbrella you can see on the cover of the book, a courtesy of the publicist.
I received Raven Stole the Moon from Sarah D., Terra Communications for a review.
I won The Coral Thief in the LT Early Reviewer program.