Book Reviews

Book Review: The Reckoner Trilogy by David A. Robertson

Back cover copy from Strangers:

When Cole Harper is compelled to return to Wounded Sky First Nation, he finds his community in chaos: a series of shocking murders, a mysterious illness ravaging the residents, and reemerging questions about Cole’s role in the tragedy that drove him away 10 years ago. With the aid of an unhelpful spirit, a disfigured ghost, and his two oldest friends, Cole tries to figure out his purpose, and unravel the mysteries he left behind a decade ago. Will he find the answers in time to save his community?

My Thoughts

I read the whole origin story of The Reckoner and chose to review the whole series instead of each book individually.

This is a much needed story in our time right now, I believe it is the first story written about a First Nations superhero. And what a great introduction it is. (The series will continue in comic book/graphic novel form.) These three books tell about how Cole Harper is gifted with super powers in the face of a childhood tragedy, and how he comes to terms with who he is and is meant to be with the help of a coyote spirit named Choch.

First off, what isn’t there to love about Choch, the coyote spirit? His humour and candidness gives an original voice to a well-developed trickster character. Roberston does an excellent job of character development throughout the thriller series.

Spirit Janey was another favourite character. Robertson hosts a full cast of people in this series so it’s important to be able to identify who’s who. I have to say he did a great job weaving his characters together while keeping their individual voices clear to the reader.

I only had one issue with the series, and I think I’m a lone voice in this to be honest, as I’ve heard or read many reviews of Strangers, Monsters, and Ghosts and everyone else seems to LOVE it… however, there are many references to pop culture and this just didn’t sit right with me. When I’m editing a manuscript, I look for what’s called “heads up moments,” these are ideas in a story that pull the reader out of the story, distracts them, gives them pause, or a “heads up” moment. (Not that I was editing these books, but I find I naturally fall into that framework of anything I read.) I did this at every reference to Star Wars, Pearl Jam or Super Troopers. And I found it to be distracting. However, most of these references are made by Choch and they were consistently part of his character make-up. So, like I said, it may be just me…

The setting of Wounded Sky First Nation was clearly laid out, the reader could almost map the town along with Cole. And I loved the name of the town – Wounded Sky – so much emotion is wrapped up in that image and the importance of aurora.

Of the three books, I enjoyed Ghosts most of all, the intensity of the story kept it moving at a fast pace. I also liked that Robertson took more risk with gross details. I was a bit concerned in Monsters when there was a reference to trying to be middle grade appropriate, which it had no business being. The series is most definitely young adult and I think Monsters could have catered more to that audience. So I was happier to see Ghosts drop trying to cater to a larger audience and go straight for the gut.

I recommend this series. I look forward to following Cole, Eva, Brady and of course, Choch, through their graphic novel adventures.

______________
This is an unsolicited review, I purchased these books at McNally Robinson Booksellers, Canada’s largest independent bookseller.

For Strangers:

  • Paperback: 233 pages
  • Publisher: HighWater Press (Oct. 10 2017)
  • ISBN-13: 978-1553796763

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