by Jessica Johns
When Mackenzie wakes up with a severed crow’s head in her hands, she panics. Only moments earlier she had been fending off masses of birds in a snow-covered forest. In bed, when she blinks, the head disappears.
Night after night, Mackenzie’s dreams return her to a memory from before her sister Sabrina’s untimely death: a weekend at the family’s lakefront campsite, long obscured by a fog of guilt. But when the waking world starts closing in, too—a murder of crows stalks her every move around the city, she wakes up from a dream of drowning throwing up water, and gets threatening text messages from someone claiming to be Sabrina—Mackenzie knows this is more than she can handle alone.
Traveling north to her rural hometown in Alberta, she finds her family still steeped in the same grief that she ran away to Vancouver to escape. They welcome her back, but their shaky reunion only seems to intensify her dreams—and make them more dangerous.
What really happened that night at the lake, and what did it have to do with Sabrina’s death? Only a bad Cree would put their family at risk, but what if whatever has been calling Mackenzie home was already inside?
A beautifully written story about grief, family, and supernatural horror with plenty of Cree culture tying it all together. There are plenty of spooky things going on in Mackenzie’s life and they continue to get worse as she works with her family to figure out what is going on and how to stop it. And while there are dangerous situations throughout the story, this isn’t an edge of your seat thriller like I was expecting. It’s a slow burn, but a creepy one with some other wonderful themes rounding the story out.
My one complaint lies with the pacing. Although I enjoyed learning about the characters and seeing the family dynamic, it made the story feel unbalanced at times. There were some moments where I felt like the horror should be ramping up as we near the climax that were instead slowed down with more ordinary family life. I wanted there to be a bit more leading up to the resolution. That being said, I still found this to be a captivating tale, and those moments only further showed the strong bond of this family and how life doesn’t stop for you to deal with things.
I recommend this if you enjoy reading about family and grief and want a horror that doesn’t rely on over-the-top shock-value moments to deliver its spooky atmosphere.