Posted on June 15th, 2016 by pajamapress
“Jared is flying in a private jet to visit his father’s diamond mine in the NorthWest Territories when the plane crashes. In his expensive sneakers and “raw” jeans, Jared is totally unprepared for surviving in desolate Northern Alberta. Fortunately Kyle Badger, a Cree teen, is camping nearby and comes to the rescue. After providing first aid for the injured pilot, Kyle tries to get Jared to return to his grandparents’ camp. But Jared insists on climbing a nearby hill, seeking cell phone service. Kyle tells him that the hill is culturally taboo, but Jared refuses to listen. When they reach the top, there is of course no cell service. Instead the boys enter an alternate reality, a spirit world in which their action releases the Wîhtiko (aka Wendigo). The next two hundred pages are an adrenaline-filled fight for survival, where Jared and Kyle only manage to succeed due to Kyle’s wilderness training and the intervention of Wesakechak, the trickster.
This novel has many of the threats of wilderness survival fiction, including quicksand pits, forest fires, and dangerous animals. The inclusion of the indigenous mythological characters is a brilliant addition, and creates truly frightening scenarios. But the best part of this book is the interplay between the two main characters. Jared is the spoiled city kid, and Kyle the tough outdoorsy one, but they are both so much more than the stereotypes would suggest. For example, Kyle advises Jared, “Sometimes scared is the smartest thing you can be.” (p. 29) Only through the combination of their knowledge and skill, and respect for each other’s contribution, are they able to return the Wîhtiko to its lair in The Hill.”