Anoka - by Shane Hawk
Anoka, by Shane Hawk, is a collection of 6 short stories, all based around American Indian’s perspectives, beliefs, superstitions and mythology. Identity is the core element in all the stories, and the book is easily read in an afternoon. I read them back to back, I wanted to immerse myself in the reading experience, so I settled in on a rainy Sunday to attack the meat of the book.
For me, the highlights were “Orange” and “Transfigured”, the latter being the highlight of the book because, of them all, the last was the real page turner, and introduced some really nice elements into a werewolf story – firstly, the protagonist was the werewolf herself. Second, she is female, and third, she prefers her wolf self over her human self. That her transformation is not only limited to a full moon is also a new element, but the overriding joy of this story is how she exhilarates in her wolf form. The hunt for the deer is wonderfully done, we really get a taste of being in a wolf mind. Great close to the book.
There were short stories here that I didn’t relate to – Soilborne was over before it began, I’d just about got comfy on the sofa when it was already finished. And the story was great in concept, but for me, rather rushed. Dead America presented horror images one after the other but didn’t ground us in the character enough to invest. The descriptions of the spider in his ear and then the herd of buffalo stampeding through his house were vivid – but didn’t land with me because they held no weight – hallucinations or spirits – we are left to come to our own conclusion. Perhaps it went over my head. Quite likely, I am a white European and know little about Original American culture. So that’s on me, perhaps I need to research this more before I come to any conclusions.
There’s no denying that Shane’s voice is stamped out on all of these shorts, I am a fan of short sharp incomplete sentences. Shane has a great hold on his audience's breathing patterns and the rhythm of the stories is there – the flow is great – this took no time to read. And the cover is to die for, it’s literally everything you could wish for – both visually striking and menacing, a definite reader grab.
I believe Shane will be with us for some time and look forward to seeing what he comes up with next.