The Raven's Gift by Don ReardenThe Raven's Gift by Don Rearden

The Raven's Gift

byDon Rearden

Paperback | August 13, 2013

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John Morgan and his wife can barely contain their excitement upon arriving as the new teachers in a Yup’ik Eskimo village on the windswept Alaskan tundra. Lured north in search of adventure, the idealistic couple hope to immerse themselves in the ancient Arctic culture. Their move proves disastrous when a deadly epidemic strikes and the isolated community descends into total chaos. When outside help fails to arrive, John’s only hope lies in escaping. His thousand-mile trek across the Alaskan wilderness grows more unlikely to succeed when he encounters a blind Eskimo girl and an elderly woman. The two need his protection from those who would harm them, and he needs their knowledge of the terrain and their companionship to survive. The harsh journey and constant danger push him beyond his limits as he discovers a new sense of hope and the possibility of loving again.
Don Rearden grew up on the tundra of southwestern Alaska. He is a produced screenwriter, a published poet, and assistant professor of developmental studies at the University of Alaska, Anchorage, where he shows young writers how to develop their creative voices. His experiences with the Yup’ik Eskimo culture shape his writing, and he c...
Title:The Raven's GiftFormat:PaperbackDimensions:288 pages, 8.2 × 5.2 × 0.7 inPublished:August 13, 2013Publisher:Penguin CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0143173340

ISBN - 13:9780143173342

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Rated 5 out of 5 by from An amazing little gem! I really loved this story - it is a throwback to an earlier time in fantasy/sci-fi when books were routinely under 300 pages and the author made every word and page count. Rearden wastes no time getting us involved with his characters - two urban professionals that decide to teach native children in a very remote village in Alaska. Things go bad when a mysterious flu starts to kill everyone off. He keeps us guessing about earlier events by using the occasional flashback to reveal what has happened. The story is a very moving one as the remnants of society struggle against the frigid environment, "bad men", and their own physical weakness to survive in this place. It was somewhat reminiscent of McCarthy's "The Road" but with a different slant. Rearden successfully imports many native traditions and stories into his narrative making for a unique read. Highly recommended for post-apocalyptic fans but also for anyone who can appreciate a thriller set on the margins of civilization.
Date published: 2011-03-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Raven's Gift I could not put this book down. Mr. Reardon does an extraordinary job of introducing you to his Alaska. The story of survival is one of the best I have ever read. It is poignant, but at the same time, makes the reader aware of the inner spirit we all possess. It makes me wonder what I would do in a similar circumstance. Bravo!
Date published: 2011-03-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Courtesy of Lost For Words. Source: Received from publicist. Many thanks goes to Bronwyn from Penguin Canada for sending me a copy of this book for review. I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review. My rating: 5/5 John and his wife, Anna, head north to the Alaskan tundra to teach and immerse themselves in the Yup'ik community and culture. They hope to find adventure along the way, but they could never have expected that they would encounter an epidemic that would decimate the Alaskan communities and ultimately prove fatal. With no help coming, the survivors must take things into their own hands if they have any chance of survival. An unlikely trio is formed when John meets up with a blind girl and an older woman, but the bonds they form are needed if they are to survive the perilous journey they must undertake. I'm still at a loss for words to even begin to describe what I think of The Raven's Gift. It is definitely one of those books that will stick with you long after it is read. I can safely say that this book surprised me with how genuine it is. I found it to be a haunting and compelling read, and it honestly had me hooked from the very beginning. I couldn't put it down, and found that I savoured every page. The Raven's Gift is told in three interwoven timelines, the first being when John and Anna apply to teach in the Yup'ik communities. The second and third are tied closely together as they both are written after the outbreak and they follow John on his journey with both the blind girl, Rayna, and the older woman, Maggie. A community that is already isolated as is, doesn't stand a chance when an epidemic of this stature is unleashed across it. With little to no medication, and no immediate connection to the outside world, it is easy to imagine the chaos that would run through the tundra and outer-lying communities. There is an undercurrent of danger as questions arise as to why no one has come to help, and how are those who have survived the epidemic going to fend for themselves against nature, man and beast? The trials that John is put through, and the decisions he has to make are very real. They show the conflicted state he is put in and yet, they also show his true character. The mystery surrounding the epidemic will also have the reader struggling to figure out just what is happening. A masterful and compelling debut, Rearden is one to watch. His representation of Yup'ik culture and the sense of isolation throughout ring true as it is coming from one who knows and writes from an insiders point of view. The mystery throughout will keep the reader invested in the outcome, as will the premise of the book. This is an eye-opening, chilling, and haunting tale of love, loss, and discovery. Its impact will reverberate long after the the last page has been read. Honestly, if you are going to read only one book this year, make it The Raven's Gift.
Date published: 2011-03-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Debut Novel Grabs Readers with Opening Image... Review from Winnipeg Free Press WITH its opening image of a man dragging himself on his stomach over a snowdrift, Anchorage author Don Reardon grabs us with his debut novel and pulls us onto Alaska's frozen tundra. Behind the man, a blind woman on a sled asks, "They're all gone here too?" Something has happened. A village has burned, and it is apparently not the first one. There is one other set of sled tracks, which makes them uncomfortable. The Raven's Gift By Don Reardon Penguin Canada, 224 pages, $25 So begins this literary novel about post-apocalyptic survival. However, where many novels in this genre focus on the rebuilding of a society, such as the 1949 classic Earth Abides by George R. Stewart, The Raven's Gift doesn't get that far. While it also focuses on characters finding fellow survivors, food and shelter following a pandemic, it stays with the journey. The structure involves three alternating timelines. The story opens with John and the blind woman seeking fellow survivors after mass deaths from a super flu. From current time we are sent back to the beginning of John's adventure, in which he and his wife are hired to teach in a small Yup'ic hamlet. The third fills in the middle time, where John emerges from his home and begins his journey for survival. Each timeline holds a mystery. The story is eked out through each cycle until the three come together, much like the passel of grass the girl braids each evening. Reardon, who teaches English at the University of Alaska in Anchorage, writes of the Arctic as someone who is deeply familiar with it. He incorporates traditional Yup'ic tales in his writing, and sometimes breathtaking imagery, even when describing destruction. "The vision of a burned and frozen town reminded him of a Robert Frost poem, something about the world ending in either fire or ice. Bethel appeared to have died twice." Reardon includes insider northern knowledge, such as when a nurse on John's flight says she can tell by their shoes that he and his wife are new teachers. There is commentary about Chinese food restaurants, cab drivers from all over the world, and derision about inauthentic television shows such as Northern Exposure. Underneath this story's intrigue, suspense and insider knowledge, there is something darker, more disturbing. Anger boils up slowly, as Reardon portrays how pollution affects northern culture and the subsistence way of life, as well as the systemic poverty of which "outsiders" have little knowledge. Information like this can easily come across preachy. Indeed, Reardon straddles the line as closely as former Manitoban Kevin Patterson did in his 2006 northern novel, Consumption. Balancing Reardon's anger, however, is something else that draws the reader back inside. Beyond poverty, substance abuse and suicide we find characters with buoyancy and hope. For readers who dream of northern adventure, as John and his wife did, the author offers this advice through a departing teacher: "Don't just teach and go home at night and hole up in front of the television like most people do. Get out and learn about life here, this place will teach you more than you'll ever teach your students." One wonders if this is knowledge gleaned through experience. Truly, it is the authenticity of this novel that appeals most. Winnipeg author Anita Daher is a former northerner. Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 29, 2011 H9
Date published: 2011-02-27

Editorial Reviews

“An epic adventure, a work of mythical dimensions, never to be forgotten.” - Daniel Quinn

“The Raven’s Gift has a winning plot, characters we’ve never met before, and intriguing details of a world most of us will never venture to—creating a read that opens our eyes and finds the fault lines of a heart in one breathless sitting.” - Jodi Picoult