CM . . .
. Volume XIX Number 23. . . .February 15, 2013
Him Standing. (Rapid Reads).
Victoria, BC: Raven Books/Orca, 2013.
129 pp., pbk., pdf, epub, $9.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-0176-9 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4598-0177-6 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4598-0178-3 (epub).
Grades 7 and up / Ages 12 and up.
Review by Yahong Chi.
Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.
"I want a legend brought to life."
"Excuse me?" I asked abruptly.
"I mean, I want the essence of a legend brought to life. As you do with all your work, Lucas, I want you to bring the spirit of a story forward."
"Which story is that?" I asked.
"That's where the work comes in, I'm afraid."
"Meaning?" Amy asked.
He looked at her and gave her a huge and dazzling smile. She blushed, and he smiled even harder.
"You have to dream," he said. "You have to allow yourself to inhabit the dream world. There you will find the legend and the story I want brought to life in wood."
All Lucas Smoke wants to do is carve with the gift his grandfather left him, and maybe get rich. So when a Mr. Gareth Knight asks him to create a spirit mask like his grandfather did, at first it sounds like too much trouble—until Mr. Knight advances him fifteen thousand dollars. Lucas decides to give it a try. But soon his dreams are being haunted by a powerful, faceless being, and he becomes consumed by the being which he might be about to unleash. To uncover the truth of what he's carving, Lucas and his girlfriend, Amy, must seek out the history of the being and learn how to keep it in the world it belongs to.
In an efficient yet engaging writing style, Wagamese portrays Lucas as a likeable hero with a distinct voice and perspective. Amy acts as a solid foil to Lucas, and the two develop each other in showing their vulnerable sides. Sally Whitebird, the fourth and last character in this short book, hews a little too close to the wise-woman trope, but otherwise contributes adequately as she aids Lucas and Amy against Knight.
The pace is snappy; events follow on each other's heels like dominoes at a rate sure to keep the reader hooked on the storyline. The few settings are described well and given significance (for example, Amy's apartment is a "place of light" to combat the darkness Lucas absorbs through his dreams) and the expected Native American folklore is present and accounted for. While the climax may require much suspension of disbelief, the ending will leave readers satisfied.
Yahong Chi is a writer and blogger based in Ottawa, ON.
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