Raven Stole the Moon
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Raven Stole the Moon

3.8 69
by Garth Stein

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“Deeply moving, superbly crafted, and highly unconventional.”

Washington Times


Raven Stole the Moon is the stunning first novel from Garth Stein, author of the phenomenal New York Times bestseller The Art of Racing in the Rain. A profoundly poignant and unforgettable story of a grieving mother’


“Deeply moving, superbly crafted, and highly unconventional.”

Washington Times


Raven Stole the Moon is the stunning first novel from Garth Stein, author of the phenomenal New York Times bestseller The Art of Racing in the Rain. A profoundly poignant and unforgettable story of a grieving mother’s return to a remote Alaskan town to make peace with the loss of her young son, Raven Stole the Moon combines intense emotion with Native American mysticism and a timeless and terrifying mystery, and earned raves for a young writer and his uniquely captivating imagination. According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, this remarkable novel “serves notice that Stein is a rare talent.”

Editorial Reviews

Denver Post
“A treat.”
Washington Times
“Deeply moving, superbly crafted and highly unconventional.”
Joy Tipping
“Just as winning as Racing.”
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this unpredictable and absorbing debut, Stein intriguingly blurs the line between legend and conventional reality. Two years ago in a remote Alaskan village, Jenna Rosen's five-year-old son, Bobby, fell out of a boat and drowned, and Jenna was unable to save him. Unable to come to terms with her grief, Jenna leaves her husband in Seattle and returns to the site of the tragedy. Once there, she encounters an assortment of sinisterly quirky characters and learns much about the Indian part of her heritage. She soon comes to a startling conclusion: either she's losing her mind, or her son's soul has been abducted by the kushtakaTlingit spirits that are half man, half otterand can be rescued only by a shaman. As Jenna seeks both to lay her son's soul to rest and to quiet her own guilt and grief, Stein weaves a moving tale that ably charts the gaps between rationalistic and animistic worldviews. Certain elements of the Tlingit legends may remind readers of Dracula lore: human blood breaks kushtaka spells; domestic dogs are their enemies. Occasional shifts to present-tense narration are jarring intrusions, but, for most of the novel, Stein's restrained prose is a good vehicle for Jenna's examination of the nature of religious faith and belief. (Mar.) FYI: Stein, a documentary filmmaker, is the great-grandson of a Tlingit Indian.
Library Journal
Her upscale Seattle lifestyle lost meaning for Jenna Rosen when her young son drowned in Alaska. On the second anniversary of his death, she impulsively takes a ferry to Wrangell, where she grew up and which is not far from the drowning site. Once there, Jenna often feels menaced; even as a dog appears to protect her, shape-changing kushtaka (Indian spirits) repeatedly threaten her lifecorporal and eternal. Her husband, Robert, arrives in Wrangell after he learns from a private investigator that she is living with a young fisherman. Only when a shaman risks his life to save Jenna and to help put their son's soul to rest are the Rosens able to resolve their grief. Stein's richly textured first novel, drawing on his Tlingit heritage and award-winning filmmaking experience, is layered with vivid descriptions and characters. Recommended for all fiction collections.V. Louise Saylor, Eastern Washington Univ. Libs., Cheney
Kirkus Reviews
Ingratiating, mildly spooky thriller debut about feckless yuppies whose mythic escapades with creepy Tlingit bogeymen lead to romance and redemption. Two years after her four-year-old son drowns beneath the dark waters off the Alaskan coastal town of Wrangell, Jenna Rosen is still tortured by feelings of guilt and loss. Fleeing her boorishly insensitive husband, Robert, a thriving Seattle real- estate broker, she drives his prized BMW aimlessly throughout the night. Eventually, she ditches the car and, after a few carefree swipes of her credit card, acquires a new wardrobe from Banana Republic and a ticket on an Alaskan ferry that takes her back to Wrangell and the boarded-up house where her part-Tlingit grandmother died. Meanwhile, in another part of Wrangell, professional Tlingit shaman Dr. David Livingstone (who quietly endures numerous "I presume" greetings) encounters many "stolen souls" haunting a new tourist hunting lodge. Hired at the behest of Japanese investors by the resort's disbelieving project manager, Livingstone finds the area filled with kushtaka—mythological, otterlike shape-changers that snatch the souls of people who've died without being cremated, or who've merely become lost in a dank, woodsy never-never land where these souls are rapidly transformed into even more kushtaka. Back in Seattle, Robert is suddenly terrified to be without his wife and hires Joey, a repugnant private detective, to find her. Joey does find Jenna—in the arms of twentysomething Alaskan slacker/fisherman, a new romantic interest that'll give her the courage to join up with Oscar, the friendly spirit dog, and the (literally) presumptuous Dr. Livingstone, to snatch back her deadson's soul. A supernatural thriller with an alternately satiric and solemn take on New Age spirituality. At best, more pleasing than profound.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

Read an Excerpt

From Chapter One

John Ferguson stood on the dock next to the seaplane and watched as the small figure in the Boston Whaler approached. The blue boat got closer and the sound of its big outboard engine tore into the peaceful Alaskan morning, forcing a c

Fergie had to laugh to himself. He was paying some Indian specialist five grand to come and check the place out. At a community board meeting in the neighboring town of Klawock, people suggested that he call Dr. David Livingstone, because he's the best around. Fergie jokingly said, "I didn't know witch doctors got to use the title 'doctor,'" and he found that he had offended almost everyone in the room. Turns out the guy is a shaman and a Ph.D. Go figure.

The boat was within twenty yards now, and Fergie was surprised to see that Dr. Livingstone was a young, good-looking man, not the old, shriveled-up Indian in a canoe he had expected. He waved at the boat and received an acknowledging wave in return. The boat pulled up and the young man hopped out.

"Ferguson?" the young man asked, tying the boat to the dock.

"Dr. Livingstone, I presume."

Fergie had been working on that line for about a week. He had been dying to say it, but he was desperately afraid it would offend. It didn't seem to. Dr. Livingstone smiled.


David reached into the boat and pulled out several old burlap bundles. He arranged them in a row on the dock. Fergie didn't know if he should offer to help or if the bundles were Indian magic and he would taint them by touching them. He uncomfortably shifted from foot to foot, watching.

"Well, what do you think? Do you have any first impressions?" he asked hopefully. "Any spirits of Tlingit past haunting the place?" Fergie tried to pronounce the Indian name correctly, so as not to sound ill-informed. Klink-it. Having heard a real Indian pronounce it, he knew that it was actually supposed to sound more guttural, like a big bite being taken out of an apple.

David finished unloading his bundles and stood upright. He was not tall, about five-six or so, with black hair that grew down to his waist and a soft-featured round face. His open brown eyes seemed to celebrate vision, and when he turned to Fergie, he appeared to draw closer.

"How much do you know about the Tlingits, Ferguson?"

"Oh, I don't know," Ferguson hedged. He had figured he would be in for a pop quiz, so he studied the entry in The Encyclopedia of the American Indian. "I know that the Tlingits and the Haida were the two biggest tribes in this area. Their main economy was fishing and trapping. They traded with the Russians and the British. In the late 1800s the government outlawed native languages and potlatches, but that's over now."

"Well, that's not exactly true," Livingstone corrected. "You understand the spirit of the law but not the letter of it."

Ferguson's sigh was a bit louder than he had intended. He closed his mouth and looked past Livingstone's shoulder at the white-peaked blue mountains in the distance.

"The government didn't actually outlaw native languages and potlatches," David explained. "What they did is define civilized Indians as those who didn't associate with any other Indians. Indians who did associate with other Indians were considered uncivilized and were sent to reservations or Indian schools. So the effect of the law, as you correctly deduced, was to eliminate native languages and potlatches. But that wasn't the law itself."

"I didn't know that."

"The white man is far too clever to do anything with the outward appearance of impropriety."

Ferguson nodded slowly, He had just met Livingstone, but already he wasn't sure he liked him. There was something appealing about him, but it was buried under a cockiness and arrogance that turned Ferguson off.

David knelt down and unrolled one of the bundles. Inside were strings of beads and animal claws.

"Do you know anything about our beliefs?" David asked. "Our legends?"

Ferguson decided to play it safe. No more stupid answers. Not another possibility for an embarrassing reply. Sometimes silence is your best defense. He shook his head.

"I see. But you think this place is haunted by our ghosts?"

Ferguson swallowed hard. Caught again. He wanted to tell David what he really thought, that this was all a big pain in his ass. That he was just doing it because a group of Japanese investors were going to put up a lot of money, but they insisted that the resort be "spiritually cleansed" before the deal was finalized. But Fergie knew better than to say something like that. That would be too straightforward.

"Look, Doctor, as much as I would have loved to study all about the Tlingit culture, my hands are real full trying to get this place up and running for some prospective investors in July. I apologize, but I just haven't had the time."

"Don't be defensive, Ferguson, it was just a simple question. I wanted to know where we stood. Now I know." David's innocent and sincere look made Fergie even more uncomfortable. He desperately wanted to fill the void between them, so he spoke.

"The general partners have made a commitment to being as sensitive as possible to the history of the area and the culture of the Tlingit peoples," Ferguson said. "We don't want to move ahead and find out later on that we have a ... uh, you know ... a situation."

"A lawsuit-type situation, or The Shining-type situation?"

Fergie squirmed. Damn, this guy really knew how to put a guy on the spot.

"Uh, well, I would say, definitely, well, both."

David smiled at him with his big, warm eyes, and Fergie settled down. He hated talking with these people because he always managed to say something offensive. You can't use your normal language with minorities. You start worrying about what words you can use, and then you sound uncomfortable, and then they take that as your being racist, and then it's all messed up.

"I tell you what, Ferguson," David started. "You have your lawyers use their magic to take care of the lawsuit situations, and I'll use my magic to take care of the ghost situations. How's that sound?"

Ferguson exhaled deeply and grinned. "Sounds good to me, Doctor. After all, you're the doctor."

David unrolled another bundle. Ferguson could see a part of a deer antler.

"What exactly are you going to do to take care of the ghost situations? Just out of curiosity."

David looked up. "I'm gonna dress up in feathers, shake a rattle, and throw some magic dust around. I'm an Indian, what do you think I'm gonna do?"

David laughed. And Ferguson, surprised but pleased, laughed, too.

Copyright © 1998 by Garth Stein

What People are saying about this

Joy Tipping
“Just as winning as Racing.”

Meet the Author

Garth Stein is the author of Enzo Races in the Rain!, based on the New York Times bestselling novel The Art of Racing in the Rain (and its tween adaptation, Racing in the Rain). His other works include A Sudden Light, How Evan Broke His Head and Other Secrets, Raven Stole the Moon, and a play, Brother Jones. He is the cofounder of Seattle7Writers.org, a nonprofit collective of sixty-two Northwest authors dedicated to fostering a passion for the written word. Garth lives in Seattle with his family and his dog, Comet.

Brief Biography

Seattle, Washington, USA
Date of Birth:
December 6, 1964
Place of Birth:
Los Angeles, California
BA Columbia University, Columbia College, '87, MFA Columbia University, School of the Arts, '90

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Raven Stole the Moon 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 69 reviews.
Ryan_G More than 1 year ago
I have to admit upfront that I had never heard about this book or the author before, which after reading it I should be apologizing for, so when I was offered a chance to read the reissue of the book and I read the synopsis, I jumped at the chance. Now I will also have to admit to feeling a little disappointment when I first got the book and glimpsed the cover. It looked like any other book out there and had a hint of "chick lit" to it. If I had seen the book in a store, sitting on a new release table, I would not have picked it up. I actually looked up the earlier cover for the book, and while it wasn't the best either, I felt that it caputred the mysterious aspect of the book better. While this cover seems to say not much other than that it's pretty. Now that I got that off my chest, I have to say I loved this book. The story was a blend of drama, mystery, paranormal, myth, and fantasy all rolled up into a very cohesive book that even when it took the fantastical turns, you always feel as if it's real. Jenna and Robert (her husband) felt like real people trying to deal with their loss in different ways which caused strain in the relationship. It just so happens that on the anniversary of their son's death they are required to go to a dinner party which ends up being too much for Jenna. She ends up taking off and ends up back in Alaska where the tragedy happened. Jenna meets three individuals who are to become very important in her life, Oscar the loveable dog who may be more than he seems, Eddie the adorable fisherman, and David the tribal shaman who is dealing with demons of his own. With their help Jenna takes a terrifying and touching journey to discover what happened to her son and where he is at now. I've been struggling to do this review simply because so much of this book is important to the story and I don't want to give too much away. The last thing I will say is that I felt this book was the perfect blend of the fantastic and realism, that the way these two elements are blended is seamless and you aren't always sure where one ends and the other begins.
tweezle More than 1 year ago
I had heard about a lot of good things about Garth Stein's work, and was excited to be able to review one of his novels. With all the great things I've heard, I had created some high expectations I was really hoping this book would live up to. It not only lived up to them, but exceeded them! From the first page, I found myself under the spell of this highly emotional story. There was just no way, after starting it, that I was able to put it down. The characters were extremely well crafted and realistic. The storyline was beautifully and masterfully told. I was very impressed with the way that Stein wove Tlingit folklore throughout the story, making it real and almost believable. My heart broke for the main character, Jenna, and the loss of her son. I understood her need for closure and was aching right along with her. Not many characters will get to me the way that hers did. "Raven Stole the Moon" has made my favorites list for this year. It's powerful, thrilling, suspenseful, gripping, and will scare the pants off you! Make sure you add it to your reading list if you haven't already. This is a new updated version of the original novel that was released in 1998. Mr. Stein made a few changes and cut out a lot of the vulgarity. The reason for Adult Audience rating: This book has some descriptive sex, language, and other adult themes that would make it questionable for older teens. Please read before deciding if you should or should not give it to your older teen. It's a great story, but the content is sometimes harsh.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was well written, it seemed a little slow in parts, but the story kept my attention. I didn't know much about it when I started reading, but now I am a bit more interested in Alaskan folklore. I would recommend this book.
Lencrest More than 1 year ago
Not as good as Racing in the Rain but pretty good. Similar style and a quick read.
NatalieTahoe More than 1 year ago
Garth Stein wrote The Art of Racing in the Rain, but I unfortunately never got a chance to pick it up and read it. I always meant to get to it, but life seemed to get in the way. So I was even more excited to receive a copy of Raven Stole the Moon from Sarah Daily at Terra Communications. Originally released in 1998, it's now been released again -- and rightfully so. After reading it, I can see how it fits much better into today's market, and I fully expect this book to become incredibly popular. Jenna Rosen is married and living in Seattle with her husband, Robert. Her life now is strained and tired and she is unable to move through it with some type of normalcy. Some time has passed since the heartbreaking day when her young five-year-old son slipped over into the water, disappearing from the surface while on a vacation near her Native American grandmother's hometown of Wrangell, Alaska. The resort of Thunder Bay was never approved to be built by the local shaman, but investors and sales pushed forward. The need to make money kept the shaman's advice buried and tragedy happened. Jenna's life is now filled with therapists, medication, and alcohol, all in hopes to rebuild some type of life, but nothing seems quite right. One night two years later, Jenna is compelled to travel to Alaska from Seattle, leaving her husband and strained marriage behind at a party of co-workers with no idea of where she went. What follows is an incredible mixture of Native American tradition and culture with a searing mystery and deep love, loss, and sadness. I was perplexed and drawn into the mystery of the kushtaka and felt the creepy and prickly fear of looking over my shoulder as I learned about lost souls, native rituals and the Tlingit shaman strength to protect the land and people. My heart broke for Jenna as she struggled to understand what happened on "that day," how Native American legend may play a part of it, and I was completely racing with page-turning anxiety any time she was alone in a hotel room, the forest, or on the Alaskan shoreline. Is Jenna crazy or is the legend of the shapeshifting kushtaka true? And could the dog that saved her life really be something much more? Garth Stein has captured an atmosphere within Raven Stole the Moon that is memorable and spooky -- a re-released debut novel that effortlessly combines a story of true loss and one woman's path while grieving, with the supernatural touch of true Native American culture. I could not put this one down, and read it within a couple of days. If I didn't have that pesky day job, it would easily have been finished in one sitting, as I enjoyed it so. This is one to read at the fireside and have your dog or cat by your side to let you know if you really should pay attention to the bristling hairs on the back of your neck... http://coffeeandabookchick.blogspot.com
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm a big fan of Garth Stein and this book didn't disappoint.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Maybe it's unfair to judge an author's very first book after reading a later book he penned that was so phenomenal. It was interesting to learn about the Indian culture and beliefs, but the story just wasn't as interesting as The Art of Racing in the Rain. THAT was a really truly great book!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nicole_67 More than 1 year ago
I picked this book up after reading and falling in love with The Art of Racing in the Rain. The author, Garth Stein, is an extraordinary writer. I just love how he explains things and the flow of his words. I can honestly say that i really didn't know where this book was headed from reading reviews and the synopsis. But i decided to a least give it s chance becasue i like Stein's writing. I MADE THE RIGHT DECISION. At first i was a little confused about what was going on and how everything connected. Then suddenly everything starts to click and i got swept up in this startling, intense, supernatural story. The story kept me guessing. You have to stick with the book to understand. Don't give up 30 pages in, keep reading. Great Story. I love that the story is told in 3rd person. I prefer books like that so we can learn everyone's thoughts.   
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book took over my life! I couldn't stop reading it even when I should have been doing other things. I love the voice, and there is never a dull moment in this book. I was totally swept up, and I think you will be too!
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mergra More than 1 year ago
Great read. I could hardly put it down. Loved the indian mysticism.
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I really enjoyed this book. It is a quick read and if you love a mix of adventure, romance, and a little paranormal thrown in, you'll appreciate this novel. I felt like I was there as the descriptions of the surroundings were presented in just enough detail, without feeling overdone. You really felt for the characters and their situations. I love anything to do with Alaska and the native culture. There is a nice blend of these subjects in the storytelling. It gets a little too funky towards the end and you have to suspend reality a bit, but it is certainly entertaining.
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