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Shadow of the Wendigo

Shadow of the Wendigo - Dale T. Phillips, Phillip Hoffman In the vast wilderness of a Canadian winter, something malevolent stirs. The Wendigo, a being of myth and legend, rides the winds and sates its hunger on humans. White Feather is taken by the Wendigo, his body used to hunt and to feed. The Cree tribal elders have stories of this monster and know of only one way to save White Feather’s soul: by fire. Of course word gets out and the Canadian authorities feel the need to send up a government investigator, Sean Laporte. He’s not equipped for the truth and the Wendigo hunts again.

We experience much of this story through Sean’s eyes. He’s a practical man, married, 8-5 job, expecting his first child. He doesn’t even buy into much of the Christian dogma that so enchants his wife (Ri). So when the tribal elders try to explain the Wendigo, he listens politely but quietly thinking there must be another, non-supernatural, reason for the recent deaths. He isn’t the only one, being joined by his partner on the force (Billy) and by a third party, a cryptobiologist wildlife hunter millionaire.

The action keeps moving the entire book, with a few moments of contemplation. There’s a decent body count for this short book: big enough to show that Wendigo is a real threat but not gratuitous. I enjoyed the mix of practical real world solutions (trap it – it’s just another wild animal science hasn’t classified!) and the supernatural solutions (it’s a beast of the spirit, feeding on souls – use fire to force it away!). Of course, the biologist in me wanted them to trap it and classify it. The adventure reader in me hoped that it would only be vanquished by fire. Both sides were satisfied by the ending.

There’s only 3 ladies in this short book, and they are out numbered by the guys. Ri is a pregnant wife and has a small role. There is another wife we meet at the very beginning but, alas, she is Victim #2 (if you count White Feather as Victim #1). The 3rd lady (and the most interesting) is the millionaire beast hunter. However, her sexual freedom is played heavily during her role. I felt that if this sexuality had been balanced with her knowledge of wildlife biology, then she would have been a fantastic character. In fact, I secretly hope there will be a spin off series following her on her adventures (both in the wild and in the bedroom). Alas, her character was not the central one for this book.

The ending is one of those that seems something for the reader to interpret. At first, I wasn’t sure I liked this. I wanted more (I know, I can be greedy when it comes to good stories). But I took a few days to let the story settle into my dreams and now, I am glad that there is a small amount of reader interpretation at the end. If I am feeling generous towards our main character Sean, then he goes off and has a meaningful life. If I am not feeling generous, well then, Sean has a much more interesting, if painful, existence. A worthy book – go check it out!

Narration: Hoffman did a good job – plenty of distinct voices and accents. He had to come up with a spooky sound for the Wendigo, and it was indeed spooky! My smallish dog even started barking at the sound. He did a good job with the feminine voices as well.