Fans of The Art of Racing in the Rain might be excited to know that Garth Stein’s first novel, Raven Stole the Moon has just been released in paperback. It has been two years since Robert and Jenna Rosen lost their son in a drowning accident at a resort in Alaska. The resort was part of an investment scheme that never panned out. Robert has somehow managed to pull himself together and move on with their life in Seattle, but Jenna has yet to heal the gaping wounds in her heart. While Robert has stuck by Jenna and her various reactions to the event (sleeping with the TV on, Valium addiction) it seems that the love has seeped out of their marriage. After an embarrassing fight at a party, Jenna takes Robert’s car and intends to drive herself home. On an impulse, she just keeps driving and ends up in Wrangell, Alaska her Tlingit grandmother’s hometown. Jenna hopes that the time away will help her come to terms with her troubles, but she soon finds herself on a spiritual journey that will really test her mettle.
It’s hard to believe this is a first novel. Stein effortlessly blends one woman’s grief with Tlingit legends to create a compelling story. I had a hard time putting it down, because the pace was quick and the story fantastic, sending the occasional chill down my spine. While there is one character that I thought was totally evil and one that I thought was mostly good, Stein emphasizes the point that we are all a complex mix of good and bad and he illustrates that through his flawed characters of Jenna and Robert. Secondary characters like Eddie, the wounded fisherman, David the misguided shaman and Oscar, Jenna’s canine spirit guide, were wonderfully endearing. Beautifully crafted and deeply moving, if you liked The Art of Racing in the Rain, than this story is not to be missed.