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Raven Stole the Moon

Raven Stole the Moon

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’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.”

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061806384
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 03/09/2010
Pages: 445
Sales rank: 155,804
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About 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.


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

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

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