“Mihko Laboratories reopened the research facility. Chief and Council said it would be a boost to the economy, but I don’t think they’ve hired any community members, and their presence had almost doubled the last time I heard from Eva. There are more people at the clinic, too, and security all over the place. I mean, all over the place.”
“What, like at the mall?”
“All over the place,” Brady repeated. “The whole community’s on lockdown now, not just the clinic.”
“The whole community’s on lockdown? What do you mean?”
“Nobody’s allowed to leave or come in. That’s why the flights stopped coming last month. They’re rationing food because of it, the whole nine.”
Cole had a vague memory of an encounter in the woods. There had been two guards. A struggle. Gunshots. They’d been trying to keep Cole from leaving. His mind was reeling. He couldn’t even think about what he had to do to save the community. “Tell me that’s it.”
Brady hesitated. “People are missing.”
“Like before?” Cole asked, thinking about his murdered friends.
“No, just up and vanishing. Gone.”
“Just gone,” Cole stated flatly. “Where? I mean, where do you think?”
“The clinic? The research facility?” Brady guessed. “Eva didn’t know.”
“Shit,” Cole breathed.
“So, what’s the plan? We’ll go back, I’ll tell Eva, and we’ll, you know…” Brady didn’t know where to go from there, just that, it sounded to Cole, he knew they were a team, and they were going to do something”…she’ll be so happy, she’ll probably faint, but, you know, then she’ll be happy. Then we’ll—”
“We’ll tell Eva, of course. But we can’t just tell everybody about me,” Cole said.
“Why?” Brady asked.
“Because we don’t have a plan, short of just going back.”
“And we can’t tell anybody else because we don’t have a plan?”
“Yeah, that’s the one thing we do have.”
“The one thing we do have,” Brady repeated thoughtfully. “Okay, what do you mean?”
“I mean that whatever we decide to do, they won’t ever see me coming,” Cole said.
“It’s historically hard to keep anyone’s presence a secret in Wounded Sky.”
“It’s not when you have a costume.”
Cole Harper has returned to Wounded Sky in this third book of “The Reckoner” trilogy. Did Eva somehow make a deal so Cole would come back from the dead? Or was the news of his death exaggerated? Regardless, Cole has returned because of unfinished business in Wounded Sky. Mihko Laboratories continues to experiment with biological weapons, using local inhabitants as convenient guinea pigs. People are missing; patients in the clinic are dying. And the supernatural monster Upayokwitigo is still at large and finding more and more ways to terrorize the community.
Robertson provides his young adult readers with another exceptional and exciting novel. Cole is an interesting main character who continues to deal with mental health issues, specifically anxiety. Yet, despite this, he proves he can be strong when it is needed. His self-awareness and his growing acceptance of both his successes and his failures form the backbone of this coming-of-age novel.
Other characters from the earlier books, Strangers and Monsters return. Elder Mariah and friends Eva and Brady are familiar to readers and continue both to question Cole about his decisions as well as to support him as part of the team determined to return Wounded Sky to its former peaceful and happy existence. Supernatural characters Jayne and Choch are also back to add excitement, interest and an undercurrent of humour to the story.
The word “ghosts” implies a book about the supernatural, and this forms a major thread of the novel, but Robertson also gives readers a fast-paced and imaginative thriller/adventure which will keep them on the edge of their seats. The tension in the story builds through character development as well as lots of action scenes and doesn’t relent until the final pages. Only then do Cole and the readers know just whom they can trust to save Wounded Sky once and for all.
David Robertson is a member of Norway House Cree Nation, and Ghosts is filled with language and customs which will appeal to both indigenous and non-indigenous readers alike. While this book could stand on its own, there are many references to the first two volumes of the series, and so readers without that background may find themselves somewhat lost, particularly at the beginning of the novel.
Online sources suggest that Cole Harper and his friends have more adventures to come in the form of a graphic novel. Fans of the trilogy will be glad to know that they can once again return to Wounded Sky and the people who live there.
Ann Ketcheson, a retired high school teacher-librarian and classroom teacher of English and French, lives in Ottawa, Ontario.