Two Quick Reviews: Two Old Women and The Deepest of Secrets
Two Old Women - An Alaskan Legend of Betrayal, Courage, and Survival by Velma Wallis
Genre: Historical Fiction
Published 1993; 127 pages
First Sentence: "The air stretched tight, quiet and cold over the vast land."
Main Characters: the two old women - Ch'idzigyaak and Sa'
This novella is the author's telling of a tribal story passed down through the generations, ultimately to her mom, and then to her. I picked up the rhythms of the old way of storytelling and it felt like a fable - which it sort of is since there is a moral at the end (though not spelled out like Aesop). The tribe is the Arctic tribe of the Gwich'in and they are suffering through a very harsh winter; there's not enough food, so the chief makes the hard decision to leave the oldest two people behind so that hopefully more of the tribe could survive. This is the story of how these determined old women called on their old skills to survive. One of the most interesting aspects of the tale is the details shared about how they survived - how they managed to hunt, build shelter, find food, and support and encourage each other. An extraordinary story of endurance and fortitude! (don't want to give away the ending)
This is an easy read. It would be a good story to read to a child who's in the fable stage of listening. It's inspiring and a good reminder of the value of being connected to a larger community. Definitely recommended.
The Deepest of Secrets #7 by Kelley Armstrong
Published 2022, 341 pages
First Sentence: "It's July in the Yukon, a gorgeous night that's perfect for a campfire. Or, in this case, a game of campfire Dungeons & Dragons."
Main Characters: Detective Casey Butler, Sheriff Eric Dalton, Deputy Will Anders, Phil, Isabel and the rest of the residents of Rockton
Everyone in Rockton has a secret - that's kinda the point of the whole off-the-grid town. When one of the newer residents learns the secret of the deputy and exposes it, the town is thrown into turmoil. The rabble rousers have a field day stirring the pot and spreading rumors. Once Casey and Dalton get to the bottom of who was behind all that, another problem arises.
As was hinted at in the last book, Stranger in Town, Rockton is told by the very secretive Council that they're going to be shut down. So in addition to trying to wrapping their heads around the fact that all the residents are basically being unceremoniously booted out of town, there's a missing resident, then a murder, then ANOTHER missing resident!? Suddenly threats of former lives and secrets being leaked are everywhere and everyone is worried. The police trio strive to figure out who's behind the murder AND meet the town evacuation schedule. The book wraps up this phase of Rockton very tidily and lays the groundwork for the New Rockton series.
I appreciate several things about Armstrong's writing. The style is very readable - the words flow, the dialog is realistic and logical; there aren't any jarring 50cent words thrown in randomly that don't fit the situation. The reactions of the characters are usually very believable. She also does a great job of setting the scene in the back woods of the remotest part of Canada. The mix of characters is interesting and varied giving her lots of opportunity for snark, for affection, for shock, for annoyance, basically for all the emotional reactions you can imagine. This is an excellent series that I've really enjoyed and I'm looking forward to the follow up series set in New Rockton.
Have you read either of these books? Does one sound of interest? Which one might you pick up?