Strangers by David Alexander Robinson
Publication Date: March 15, 2018 (US) HighWater Press
Summary from NetGalley:
When Cole Harper is compelled to return to Wounded Sky First Nation, he finds his community in chaos: a series of shocking murders, a mysterious illness ravaging the residents, and reemerging questions about Cole’s role in the tragedy that drove him away 10 years ago. With the aid of an unhelpful spirit, a disfigured ghost, and his two oldest friends, Cole tries to figure out his purpose, and unravel the mysteries he left behind a decade ago. Will he find the answers in time to save his community?
ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley for an honest review.
This was an incredibly fast read. I could have finished it in one sitting, but life intervened and it took a while longer to finish. It was fascinating and very hard to put down. Interesting characters and I loved the setting of an isolated First Nation community in the wilds of Northern Canada. Although it was a contemporary mystery, it does have the supernatural layer which gave the story an overall spooky feel to it.
Cole was a solid character who suffered from anxiety and was overwhelmingly haunted by his past. He spends a lot of time thinking about his guilt and the tragedy that made his aunt and grandmother move him away from the community. He is driven to figure out what is happening around him, who is committing the murders and how to help with the illness that is killing people in the community as well. He is a pretty smart kid, but still struggles with his part in the tragedies.
There is a romantic side story of sorts with his childhood friend Eva. But it is a very minor part of the story. I can’t decide how I feel about Eva, I like her as a character, she is strong and willing to take risks to help her friends, but she doesn’t treat Cole very nicely when he firsts returns. She obviously has lots of mixed feelings about him, but is unwilling to work on resolving those issues with him.
The Coyote, also known as Choch, is a fascinating character in this story. Part trickster, part godling, he spends almost as much time messing up Cole’s life as he does helping him fix it. He is also somewhat humorous at times, having asides with the audience, and showing up and saying the wrong things at the wrong times.
Although the immediate mystery of who is killing his friends is solved, there are still a lot of things that have not been resolved by the end of this book. Also, I am not entirely sure that the supernatural aspect of the story is real or just part of Cole’s anxiety or something else that has not been revealed. The setting is also surreal at times with the Northern Lights in the background for most of it.
Overall a great start to a new series. I am looking forward to seeing the rest of the story unfold in this First Nations supernatural mystery.