by Judith Berman
Review by Madeleine Yeh
Ace Trade Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 0441013228
Date: 06 September, 2005 List Price $15.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Cloud is not only in a strange world, she is in a world with few friends, and many dangerous secrets. Few of the town people are willing to talk to her or include her in daily activities. Her stepfather and his wizard are openly hostile, her mother is too timid to protect her, and her aunts refuse to talk about Cloud's father or brothers or any part of the past. Cloud strives valiantly to be a proper, obedient, normal girl avoiding any of the powers and abilities of her father, an immortal bear.
This proves to be impossible. The world is too dangerous; Rumble is trying to kill her with mundane force, various wizards are trying to tap the magic that Cloud inherited from the supernatural bear who was her father. Cloud has to escape from Rumble, the wizards, and take her brothers' and father's bones to the other world for a proper burial. She meets others of the magical First People, orcas and salmon and great birds. Some help her and some hinder her but she goes on. She discovers more about her past, her parents and relatives, her magic and the world around her, both the mundane and magical.
There are many things to like about this book: the world, the details, the setting, the plot. Cloud grows in the book from a scared, ignorant child to an adult who understands her own powers and the world around her. She grows to a very nice person who is careful of the world and its inhabitants, who is comfortable being both human and bear. The worlds are very nicely put together with the human world deliberately mimicking the magical world. The author has either researched this very carefully or has a done a superb job of creating a magical world and a human society. The cultural vignettes are superb, and the human society seems firmly based on a sound economic footing. This is often left out of Fantasy universes, where cities appear in the middle of nowhere without any visible means of feeding its populace. Here if salmon appears at supper, it must be first caught and cooked.