Scars by C. Michael Lorion
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Totem: Book 1: Scars by C. Michael Lorion is the story of Kimi, a one eyed Native American woman who has traveled through a "passage" into modern times in search of her brother. She has not made the journey to save her sibling. Kimi and her brother, Achak, do not have anything approximating a close, family relationship. In fact, the book begins with Kimi suffering a serious injury at the hands of her brother and moves on from there as Kimi tries to save the world from her brother's actions.
Lorion has written a page turner with concepts capable of pushing his readers' imaginations while maintaining emotions the same readers can feel. He has combined a mystical Native American story with a tale of suburban relationships, allowing his readers to have legendary characters with magical powers alongside people who could be our neighbors.
The novel takes place in Old Wachusett, Massachusetts during a major blizzard. In addition to the conflict between Kimi and Achack, Lorion gives us David, a college mathematics professor, whose marriage to Connie, the local librarian, has suffered greatly since the death of Julian, one of his sons. David works with an attractive, younger colleague, whose presence isn't helping his troubles at home. David's son Josh, Julian's twin brother, has recently broken up with Abby, the daughter of a minister. The minister is a widower who has gotten into trouble due to his involvement with a married woman. That brief summation touches the main characters, but the novel give us a large cast of people who are all interrelated in a small town way. Lorion does a wonderful job of telling us about his characters through one plot line, then switching to another plot line where those characters are unaware of things we readers now know. This creates excitement as we wonder when and if the truth will come out. Totem: Book 1: Scars is, as its title states, book 1 of a series. So I wasn’t surprised when it introduced a number of sub plots which did not resolve prior to the end of the book. I would have preferred if some of the lines had come to an end while others kept going, but I do look forward to discovering results in the next book.
Lorion writes with a careful attention to detail and gives us plenty of chances to see what’s in the heads of his characters. Here’s an example from Abby’s point of view:
Just the answer she figured she'd get from the One so high and mighty. Not that it mattered. Abby didn't need to look up to an invisible, apathetic God playing hide-and-seek in heaven while his hapless subjects struggled for survival down here on the big blue marble. She didn't need to count on anyone anymore for anything. From now on, everything in her life, everything that would happen to her, and everything that she would do was up to her. She would grab the reigns of her life and take all the responsibility from here on out. No more waiting for her father to fix things, no more wishful thinking that Josh would take her back, and absolutely no more futile attempts at connection to a freakish higher power that only seemed to relish in hiding Himself when people needed Him the most. No more any of that.
Steve Lindahl – author of Motherless Soul and White Horse Regressions