by Joanne Sundell
Pub Date: 7/3/20
Call of the Wild meets Brother Bear in this epic tale of adventure, endurance, and young love–a heroic journey tested against America’s last frontier.
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The year is 1908, and Anya and the gentle Chukchi sled dogs she has raised have been traded away from their native Siberia and set on a perilous course across the Bering Sea to the gold-rich territory of Alaska–landing them in a fight for survival they didn’t start.
Worlds ever brush past, both human and spirit. Good and Evil are born into each: some become master; some do not. While all of Russia shakes, the waters of the Bering Sea roll and crash, and the wilds of the Alaska frontier quake in the roar of the powerful ice storm brewing, only the Gatekeepers of the Chukchi–the pair of huskies guarding the gates of heaven–and the gods of the Vikings hear and are called to the unnatural breach on Native Earth, summoning two young guardians to the fight, relying on their human spirit to prevail in the coming war of ghosts.
Thirteen-year-old Anya is a Chukchi shaman, a medium able to pass between the spirit world and the human world. She will do anything to protect her dogs. Forced onto a deadly journey to save them, she crosses paths with a sixteen-year-old seafarer, Rune Johansson. Together they will make a stand against phantom predators hiding in shadow, waiting to strike.
The ice storm is coming.
The plot revolves around the first race, in 1908, which pitted stocky Eskimo ‘malamutes’ against the smaller Siberian Huskies, brought into Alaska, in the 19th century, by Russian traders. In 1908 and 1909 the 408 mile race from Nome to Candle and back was won by malamute teams, but in 1910 the ‘Sibiriskiy haskis’ triumphed, and this historical tidbit has the makings of a fascinating sequel to this delightful book.
—HISTORICAL NOVEL SOCIETY
Sundell’s novel evokes the atmosphere of the early 20th century frontier, reminiscent at times of Jack London’s work. Blending historical and fantasy fiction is no easy feat, but Sundell captures her reader’s interest with appropriate period details and a new take on common fantasy tropes. This is a refreshing story that neatly fits within the genre while also exploring new ground.
At what point do stories featuring thirteen-year-old protagonists become accessible and of interest to adult readers as well as young adults? It’s when action and events woven into the story line spark a level of complexity that challenges and involves all ages, when humans and spiritual connections embrace nightmares and positive possibilities alike, and when a book such as Arctic Storm focuses as much on the emotional development of each protagonist as it does on the wider story line of sled dogs in the line of fire.
—MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW