Book Review: Amarok
By: Angela J. Townsend
Published By: Spencer Hill Press
Publication Date: November 20, 2012
Page Count: 224
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher
Audience: Young Adult - Fantasy
There were two things that originally drew my attention to this book: the cover and the setting. (I'm going to save my cover gushing for a Cover Crazy post in November.) After a trip to Alaska a few summers ago, I have been mesmerized by the state. I was lamenting to some bookish friends about how I wanted to read a really compelling story set there and then BAM this book came across my radar. It was fate ... or an ice age shaman ... that brought Amarok my way.
Angela J. Townsend does a beautiful job of bringing the Alaskan wilds to life. The setting is crucial to the plot and conflict of this one. There are so many dangers facing Emma and Amarok at virtually every turn. Abuse, environmental factors, and aggressive beasts are only a few of their worries. The adventure in this one is enough to have your heart racing. I just kept hoping that something good was going to happen - Emma's life has been so difficult - I wanted her to have something positive. She's a fighter; you can't help rooting for her.
I loved that this book was a fantasy without being a recycled version of the same hundreds of YA books that I have already read. Everything seemed fresh to me with this one. I also have to say I was so happy that there wasn't a dread love triangle or instalove mucking up the plot. There is a bit of romance, but I felt like it added to the plot and was realistic. The relationship made sense to me and I could understand how the characters formed such a strong bond in a short amount of time.
Another element I really enjoyed was the mythology in this one. I have never read anything that included shamans. It was an interesting spin and I was fascinated by the lore. The inclusion of Native American culture was also an element that I enjoyed.
I read this book in one sitting because I could not put it down. It is the perfect sort of read for those cold, rainy nights that descend in the late fall and early winter. Bundle up with a quilt, a hot mug of tea, and lose yourself in this world for awhile - it will be a treat you won't soon forget.
One Last Gripe: My only major complaint is that there were some slower moments in the beginning and middle - the novel really hooked me once they reached the cabin.
My Favorite Thing About This Book: The lore - I really really loved it
First Sentence: Emma lifted the car keys from the hook on the wall, praying they wouldn't jingle as she crept across the kitchen floor.
Favorite Character: Amarok
Least Favorite Character: Weasel Tail
Emma's life has been hell since she moved from sunny California to a remote Alaskan town. Abandoned by her father and living with the guilt of causing her mother's death, she makes a desperate dash for freedom from her abusive stepfather. But when her car skids off the icy road, her planned escape leads to further captivity in a world beyond her imagining.
Dragged across the tundra by an evil mountain man and his enormous black wolf, she learns that love can be found in the most unexpected places. Amarok, as she's nicknamed the wolf, is a young man from the gold-rush era enslaved by an ancient shaman. Emma's gentle touch and kind heart win his love and devotion. When a vicious madman--trapped in bear form by the same Shaman--attacks the travelers and injures Amarok, Emma must find the strength to face her fears and free the wolf she's come to love. But that means she must face down the evil shaman, a Siberian mammoth hunter from the ice age, and he has no intention of giving up his power to her.