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VOYAIn a world inspired by Northwest Coast Native mythology, Cloud, born of a human mother and a First Peoples bear father, has always lived in bear form. When she suddenly and inexplicably wakes up human, her life starts spinning out of control. Her violent human stepfather, she learns, has killed and eaten her father and bear-brothers, and then unbalanced the world by binding her father's spirit. Now her bear-relatives' ghosts haunt her dreams, and her stepfather is after her blood. Fleeing for her life, Cloud begins a quest to free the ghosts, during which the First Peoples she encounters only fuel the rage threatening to consume her, and her life becomes a nightmare of horrifically brutal carnage. Only when Cloud accepts her true nature can she complete her quest and find a place for herself in her world. Do not be fooled by this book's seemingly middle school cover; its dark tale will better suit horror collections, as slogging through its endless charnel-house descriptions is not for the squeamish. In addition, Cloud's perpetual rage and despair might exhaust and agonize the reader. It is unfortunate because Bear Daughter is otherwise a brilliant book, tapping into the roots of primal myths in a realized-dream style reminiscent of Robert Holdstock. Good and evil cede significance to the true nature of living things and the vital importance of respect. Characters are multifaceted and flawed, and the lyrical prose-overflowing with authentic details of Native life-describes great beauties as well as chilling horrors. Recommend this one to lovers of intelligent horror. VOYA CODES: 4Q 3P S A/YA (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Will appeal with pushing; Senior High,defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult-marketed book recommended for Young Adults). 2005, Ace Books, 422p., $16 Trade pb. Ages 15 to Adult.
—Rebecca C. Moore