Review: The Raven’s Gift by Don Rearden

22 Feb

Publisher: Penguin Canada
Released: Jan 25, 2011
Genre: Canadian literature, post-apocalyptic dystopia
For review from Penguin Canada.

John Morgan and his wife can barely contain their excitement upon arriving as new teachers in a Yupik Inuit 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 the snowcovered tundra and the hunger of the other survivors. His thousand-mile trek across the Alaskan wilderness grows more improbable when he encounters a blind Inuit 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.

From Penguin Canada website.


Blown. Away. I swear those are the first two words that come to mind when I think of The Raven’s Gift. Other words that pop into my brain are beautiful, stunning, stark, desperate and hopeful. But this is not a happy story, no.  It’s heart-wrenching pretty much from beginning to end. Rearden does an amazing job of putting the reader right into the thick of things. I mean, I felt like I was there, going through everything John was going through.

The Raven’s Gift is not told in a linear manner, but rather during three timelines: when John and his wife first take teaching jobs up North, when the epidemic first starts and the present as John tries to survive. Now normally this would have driven me insane. But Rearden does such an amazing job of making sure that the reader always knows what timeline they are in that it didn’t bother me at all. In fact, it added to the suspense of the story and the telling of John’s tale.

I normally HATE comparing books to one another, but The Raven’s Gift, in many ways, reminded me of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Both book have the same feel and tone to them, although I have to say that I enjoyed The Raven’s Gift more.

If, like me, you love a good post-apocalyptic tale, then I can’t see how you wouldn’t like this book. If you aren’t familiar with the genre, or are just looking for a wonderfully written, engrossing tale, then The Raven’s Gift is a great choice on both fronts.


5 Responses to “Review: The Raven’s Gift by Don Rearden”

  1. Amanda Makepeace February 22, 2011 at 9:47 am #

    Wow! If you are comparing it to The Road–I MUST read this book.

    • lavenderlines February 22, 2011 at 9:49 am #

      I liked it better than The Road. 🙂 Sending it your way shortly.

      • Amanda Makepeace February 22, 2011 at 9:53 am #

        That is really saying something too. I’m super excited now. 😀

  2. Rich February 22, 2011 at 2:02 pm #

    You can read the first chapter of this book on his site….
    It is a great book. (Full disclosure, I’m his web designer…so I like to promote his site)

  3. Yup'ik Country February 23, 2011 at 10:34 am #

    It is from Yup’ik / Cup’ik country from which Don Rearden writes. The young girl is Yup’ik, not Inuit. We are a subArctic people, not the Northern kind of Eskimo (and we don’t mind being called Eskimo or simply ‘native.’)

    Nice review, glad to know such an exotic backdrop has mainstream appeal and that you felt you were there. It is a truly extraordinary land and culture that obviously has heavily influenced the author.

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