A few weeks ago, my friend Kristin became the first person in my immediate social circle to release a book! She launched her YA fantasy novel, THE BLONDE ESKIMO, with a fantastic reading at our local bookstore, Changing Hands. It was amazing and inspiring to see Kristin’s fantasy world become a reality on the printed page. And without further ado, here’s a bit about THE BLONDE ESKIMO.
From the publisher:
Part Viking, part Eskimo, Neiva Ellis knew her family’s ancestral home, the island of Spirit, Alaska, held a secret. A mystery so sensitive everyone, including her beloved grandmother, was keeping it from her. When Neiva is sent to stay on the island while her parents tour Europe she sets out on a mission to uncover the truth, but she was not prepared for what laid ahead.
On the night of her seventeenth birthday, the Eskimo rite of passage, Neiva is mysteriously catapulted into another world full of mystical creatures, ancient traditions, and a masked stranger who awakens feelings deep within her heart. Along with her best friends Nate, Viv and Breezy, she uncovers the truth behind the town of Spirit and about her own heritage.
When an evil force threatens those closest to her, Neiva will stop at nothing to defend her family and friends. Eskimo traditions and legends become real as two worlds merge together to fight a force so ancient and evil it could destroy not only Spirit but the rest of humanity.
Eskimo traditions and legends become real as two worlds merge together to fight a force so ancient and evil it could destroy not only Spirit but the rest of humanity.
Kristen Hunt is an artist and writer based in Phoenix, Arizona. She is an avid fan of movies, graphic novels and Young Adult literature. Anything evolving fantasy and supernatural experiences captures her interests. As a young child Kristen visited her family in Nome, Alaska and learned of her Eskimo heritage. Her Grandmother, known as the blonde Eskimo because of her golden hair and blue eyes, told Kristen the many legends found throughout Alaska, such as the Ishegocks, totems, and much more. It was these stories that inspired Kristen to write her current novel.
I’ll start off by saying that I’m a bit behind in getting to my review because I had to get my copy of THE BLONDE ESKIMO back from my thirteen-year-old daughter. So, I’d definitely say this book appeals to many different age groups. It is both a satisfying YA fantasy and an engaging romance. Neiva’s gradual transition from awkward new student in the town of Spirit to a player in the Spirit world is engaging and emotionally resonant. Readers who like sweet romance will like Neiva’s crush on fellow high school student, Nate, while her deeper relationship with Darius will appeal to those seeking steamier romance.
Where this book really shines though is in its world building and presentation of Eskimo folklore and culture, as well as in its beautiful descriptions of the Alaskan wilderness. One of my favorite passages is: “The northern lights were flowing across the sky. Deep reds overpowered the usual colors of blue, green and yellow…It looked exactly like the colors from Neiva’s vision except these seem more threatening, more real.” The entire book is loaded with beautiful passages about the northern landscape.
It was also really cool to learn more about Eskimo culture. THE BLONDE ESKIMO explores key rites of passage, provides details on Eskimo totems, and is an overview of Eskimo mythology. While Greek and Roman mythology are frequently presented in fiction, Inuit and Eskimo folklore is far less common, giving this fantasy a fresh appeal.
If I had one criticism of the novel, it would be that I occasionally wanted a bit more insight into Neiva’s thoughts and motivations. I hope if there’s a sequel we’ll get to see a bit more of what drives her. But overall, I loved THE BLONDE ESKIMO and would recommend it to anyone looking for a great YA fantasy. Grab a cup of hot chocolate, snuggle up with a warm blanket and enjoy!