Book Review: Anoka by Shane Hawk

A promising collection of short stories that intertwines the real life difficulties and prejudices faced by Native Americans with the supernatural. Author Shane Hawk has a good command of imagery that will draw you in and keep you engaged. My particular favorite was “Dead America”. You’ll want to wear ear plugs when you go to bed after reading that one.

While I found almost all of the stories rooted in solid ideas, there were a lot of “why’s” and “how’s” left unexplored and that, for me, really detracted from the overall experience. I would have loved to see these tales massaged out to provide a firmer sense of place, people, and what exactly was going on. The situations and creatures involved were all interesting, but I found it difficult to become invested in what was going on when very little background information was offered to explain how we got there or why things ended up as they did. This was particularly true for “Imitate”. I really, really dug the bones of the story, but felt it could have been much more fleshed out to give its ending an even more emotional punch. The narrative voice in each was also very similar, which I found to be a bit distracting.

Overall, I think this one fell into the category of just not being for me. I would recommend it to people with an interest in Native American lore, a dash of body horror, and people who enjoy ambiguous endings.

Find it on Amazon and Goodreads.

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