You’ve got to read this!

Dear book-seeking reader,

I don’t know why it sometimes takes me so long to listen to smart people. For months, some of the most critical readers I know have recommended The Raven’s Gift by fellow Alaskan author Don Rearden. I’ve been busy with a lot of reading and writing of my own, but that isn’t all the kept me from it.

In all honesty, I was afraid I wouldn’t like it. Don seems like a really nice guy, with a young family and a desire to do good in the world. He’s always supporting great causes. It seemed easier to just not read his book, than to read it and not like it.

I needn’t have worried. The book is fantastic, one of the best books about Alaska I have ever read. It calls to mind Cormac McCarthy and Stephen King, but at the same time it is all its own.

The Raven’s Gift is the story of a couple teaching in a remote Alaskan village when a epidemic sweeps through. People are dying in isolation, and others descending into savage violence. It is a survival story and an edge-of-the-seat thriller.

But what makes it unique is its depth. I frantically read from one page to the next, driven by that delicious desire to know what is going to happen next. Even through all the action and drama, I was moved and educated by the description of Alaska Native culture and life in a Bush village. It’s here that Don makes some brave, compassionate, and important observations.

It is clear, too, that not only is Don a good writer, but he has the knowledge and experience to write this book. Few other people would.

There are only a handful of Alaska books I recommend to everyone, locals and outsiders. This is one of them.

One small caveat — The Raven’s Gift is published by Penguin Canada, and so can be a little difficult to track down here in the U.S. But talk to your local bookseller to see if they can special order it for you, or order it through Fireside Books and they’ll ship it to you. And campaign U.S. publishers to pick up this fabulous book.

I recently saw another blogger pairing books, like one would with wines and foods. I loved the idea. So I would like to pair The Raven’s Gift with two of my other favorite Alaska titles — Ordinary Wolves by Seth Kantner and Two Old Women by Velma Wallis. These three books combined are devastating, amazing, and important.




  • AlaskaZen says:

    Yes, all three of those are excellent reads, I agree!

  • Thanks, Eowyn. I’ve been trying to find The Raven’s Gift. I just ordered it from Fireside Books online. I have the other two books on my shelves.

  • Mary Ann says:

    Raven’s Gift has been my fave book or 2011. Dark, frightening, desperate, and very well written – just my type of book.

  • I have been meaning to pick up my own copy of the book. Having lived and continueing to live in a bush village I’m always skeptical about books on rural Alaska (so many are too far-fetched), but with all of the rave reviews I just must get my hands on this title. It sounds fascinating.

  • Nance says:

    I have The Raven’s Gift on my night stand . . . will put it next in line! Another book about Alaska that I truly love is Two in the Far North, by Margaret Murie. =) If you haven’t read this lovely memoir, add it to your collection!

  • Nancy B. says:

    You mentioned two of my favorites – Seth Kantner and Velma Wallis. I will have to read the Raven’s Gift over the holidays. Another of my favorites to recommend is Sidney Huntington’s, “Shadows on the Koyukuk.”

  • NathanDunbar says:

    Definitely not available in the places I looked here, so maybe I’ll be making my first purchase from Fireside soon!

  • Candice says: has the first chapter for free! just read it!