Clear room on your bookshelves for The Alphabet Stones. This book is a keeper - it better be a contender for the Governor General's Award, the Giller, Canada Reads - all of Canada's major literary awards - it's that damn good!
Make room between Jane Urquhart's amazing novel, Away - pioneer life amid haunting forest mysteries on the edge of the Canadian Shield, and Miriam Toews' coming-of-age novel, A Complicated Kindness - growing up in a dysfunctional Mennonite community.
Acclaimed area author Ursula Pflug's novel parallels much of the territory of both these two pillars of Canadian literature, and much, much more. Pflug makes us understand and appreciate the abandoned homesteads, fields and forests of eastern Ontario where powerful local spirits prevail, which most humans fleetingly occupy with unseeing eyes. Special people, seers, young women open to all possibilities with shamanistic awareness, these are the finders of the gates to a truer and deeper awareness in all these novels. The prose in Stones is poetic, perhaps even more evocative and haunting than Urquhart's masterpiece of mental illness and Toews understanding of the incredible coping mechanisms a teenager much learn to survive among dysfunctional adults ruling a bizzaro fundamentalist world.
If you dare to see through the eyes of young seer Jody Bear, who was born to read the alphabet stones in a deserted First Nations fairy field, you will begin to comprehend the haunting truths which live out here on the edge of civilization. I have lived here, in what Al Purdy called "The Country North of Belleville", for a quarter of a century, and I have also experienced powerful encounters with other realms, other times and realities. But it has taken a master storyteller, a magi with words and vision, to capture and tell this magic.
At this planetary juncture, even here on northern Turtle Island, we all live in a bizarro world ruled by the unwise and unseeing. Reading The Alphabet Stones will give you a crash course in learning where true magic still lives and thrives. There are real gateways and visionary options to lead us out of the mess this small planet is now in, and The Alphabet Stones is a good way to begin learning to read and live by ancient runes and signs showing ways of becoming truly harmonious with our magical and sacred environment.
The Alphabet Stones
Blue Denim Press, 2013
227 pages, $20.00
available from Amazon and other online booksellers
I highly recommend this book for readers of all ages, from young adult (YA) up.
review by Chris Faiers
retired Head Librarian/CEO,
Marmora Public Library
Stirling Public Library