The Curse of the Shaman by Michael Kusugak is a slim volume and a small story that is both magical and endearing. There are two small hurdles for the reader to overcome the first is that the story is very much written in the bardic tradition where the voice of the story teller is virtually identical to the way in which you would hear someone tell a story. The spoken word and the written word are frequently different but not in this case. If you heard the words read aloud you would not be able to differentiate it from natural speech. Most fiction is written to be read in silence The Curse of the Shaman could be read in silence or aloud and result in the same story. The voice takes a little getting used to but once the reader is a chapter in it is a comfortable fit. The other minor hurdle is the few but very complicated Inuit words that appear in the text. A little phonetic helper would have been appreciated as it is though the reader either mangles the words or disregards them.
The Curse of the Shaman is the story of Man With No Eyebrows and his family as they live and grow in far north. Man With No Eye Brows and his wife Can’t See have a son they name Wolverine. In the tradition of they people not long after their son’s birth they try to match him up with a recently born Breath the daughter of the great but ill tempered Shaman Paaliaq. At the time of the request Paaliaq is having a particularly bad day and not only denies the request but curses the newborn boy Wolverine to be one day ostracized from the land of his people.
In essence this is a story about love, forgiveness and atonement all packed into a very tight package. There is nothing extraneous in Kusugak’s story telling. The story is to the bone lean and magical at the same time. This is a quick read for both adults and young readers and well worth the $12.95 CDN