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Lost in the Alaskan Wilderness

My honest review of Candace Nola’s “Bishop”

Can you feel claustrophobia when you’re lost in the wilderness miles and miles from the closest civilisation spot? If you think you can’t, that it’s a nonsensical question to ask, then go read Bishop by Candace Nola and then think again. It’s a short story, the kind you read in a weekend. Plus, the writing style and the tension keep you turning one page after the other until you finally reach the end.

Erin and Casey, her 14-years-old daughter get lost during an outdoor hiking holiday. Erin’s brother Troy is worried about them and join the search team because he couldn’t stand waiting idle while his only family is in danger. He goes as further as insisting to join Bishop, a man who lives alone in the area and his known to be a major expert about it. Soon enough, the real danger will be revealed for what it is: Bishop and Troy are running out of time to save them.

The first thing that drawn me to the book is the mother-daughter relationship and their love for the outdoors. It’s a kind of bonding I have with my own mother, because she’s the one I took after my love for hiking in the mountains. Luckily enough, we never found ourselves in the same danger Erin and Casey are, because we never roamed areas that wild, but I absolutely share their drive for adventure. And identifying ourselves in a book character is one of the main reasons why we’re drawing to them: I couldn’t say no to the opportunity of reading and review this story. And this is a decision I didn’t regret in the slightest.

The story itself sounded like a retelling of some ancient northern American folklore, the ones about the relationship between mankind and the wilderness. Someone night say it’s not particularly original, but it was very well executed. The only idea I found a bit strange is how quick Bishop accepted Troy’s company during the search: as far as I know, civilians usually slow down searches and put themselves in danger. Still, I can see how this move helped the “humanisation” of Bishop’s character and helped him build the first real human relationship he’d ever had.

One of the things that were masterfully executed in this book was the growing tension, built up page after page into a feeling of hurry and claustrophobia. Erin and Casey know that they’re lost in the middle of nowhere and that they need to get some help, because something terrible is on their trail. Troy is worried about them and it’s eating him, so much that he puts himself in danger rather than staying quiet and waiting for updates on the situation. Bishop feels the moment of his rendezvous with a long-time foe getting closer and closer. And on top of that, he really wants to help that strange guy he’s growing fond of.

Spoiler-y considerations

I think the story would have worked well even without the intervention of the supernatural, in both the wendigo and in the shapeshifting. In fact, the best part about it was how Candace Nola was able to describe the feelings of the protagonists and convey the idea of a desperate run against time.

Also, I enjoy to find the same references in the different pieces of media I consume, and Until Dawn’s story with its legend about wendigo was fresh enough for me to link the two experiences.

To sum it up, I definitely recommend this read. It’s a very well-told story about adventure and family ties, and it’s short enough to not take away too much of your time. Exactly what I call a win-win.

Published inReviews


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