Indigenous woman Kari James loves heavy metal, Stephan King novels, and her local bar. When her cousin unearths a bracelet that belonged to Kari’s mother, Kari is suddenly haunted by both her mother and a horrible entity. In order to rid herself of both spirits, Kari will have to face her past and unearth secrets about her family. This engrossing debut blends horror with mystery with a deft hand, and I look forward to what Wurth does next.
White Horse by Erika T. Wurth (List Price: $27.99, Flatiron Books, 9781250847652, November 2022)
Beautiful and poignant, this stunning ode to Cree life sings with love for the relations that sustain it—between people, with the land, and the communal practices that have endured through generations. Flett’s warm, evocative artwork is, as always, a treasure, imbuing Sainte-Marie’s lyrics with tender resonance.
Still This Love Goes On by Buffy Sainte-Marie, (List Price: $18.95, Greystone Kids, 9781771648073, September 2022)
Witches, by Mexican writer Brenda Lozano, features quite possibly the most distinctive voice I’ve come across in fiction this year. Feliciana’s narrative, recounting her life as an indigenous healer – or curandera – is hypnotic, elliptical and utterly absorbing. Her story intertwines with that of Zoe, a journalist from Mexico City sent to report on the death of Paloma, Feliciana’s muxe – or third gender – cousin. Their stories combine to highlight the struggles of women striving to be true to themselves and to find their own voices.
Witches by Brenda Lozano, (List Price: $26, Catapult, 9781646220687, August 2022)
Reviewed by Jude Burke-Lewis, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi
“It was important to me to share a contemporary story of a Navajo woman living today. Being Navajo is a small part; the book is about a woman and her work. That’s what’s different. It’s not about creating a Navajo persona, or about delegating myself to show a certain way of life for a woman. I have a responsibility to Navajo people, and to all people, to tell the truth. I want people to see that Navajos are dynamic and that they do a million different things. I show some of them.” –Ramona Emerson, Interview, Terrain.org
What booksellers are saying about Shutter
Rita Todacheene has seen ghosts since she was a child growing up in the Navajo Nation. Now a forensic photographer, Rita’s life is upended by these spirits seeking justice for their murders, while her friends and coworkers question her sanity. This thrilling mystery left me hoping to see more of Rita Todacheene in future novels. ―Lia Lent from Wordsworth Books in Little Rock, Arkansas Buy from Wordsworth Books
I really enjoyed this story about an indigenous crime scene photographer who can see ghosts. Dark and atmospheric! I’ll recommend SHUTTER to mystery and psychological suspense readers. Loved the dual timeline of present day and main character’s childhood.
―Jessica Nock from Main Street Books in Davidson, North Carolina Buy from Main Street Books
What a stunner! I couldn’t put down this story of a young Navajo forensic photographer in Albuquerque, New Mexico who can also communicate with the lost spirits of the dead. A mystery mixed with the myth and mysticism of the Navajo people with was a page turner that almost had me calling in sick to work because I wanted to read this from cover to cover, and almost did much to my boss’s chagrin. ―Pete Mock from McIntyre’s Books in Pittsboro, North Carolina Buy from McIntyre’s Books
About Ramona Emerson
Ramona Emerson is a Diné writer and filmmaker originally from Tohatchi, New Mexico. She has a bachelor’s in Media Arts from the University of New Mexico and an MFA in Creative Writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts. After starting in forensic videography, she embarked upon a career as a photographer, writer, and editor. She is an Emmy nominee, a Sundance Native Lab Fellow, a Time-Warner Storyteller Fellow, a Tribeca All-Access Grantee and a WGBH Producer Fellow. In 2020, Emerson was appointed to the Governor’s Council on Film and Media Industries for the State of New Mexico. She currently resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she and her husband, the producer Kelly Byars, run their production company Reel Indian Pictures. Shutter is her first novel.
A compelling book about how our family shapes how we are seen and who we become. Touching on themes of generational trauma, poverty, a feeling of belonging and family conflict, this story focuses on the life of Ever, told through generations of his Cherokee, Kiowa and Mexican family members. Honest and powerful, great storytelling.
Calling for a Blanket Dance by Oscar Hokeah, (List Price: $27.00, Algonquin Books, 9781643751474, July 2022)
One of the best things about reading is when you discover a book that brings back wonderful memories of childhood favorites. The Star That Always Stays made me remember two of my favorite books: Heidi and The Girl of the Limberlost. Norvia, the young heroine of The Star That Always Stays, and the young girls from these older stories long for love, acceptance and a true home. They face adversity and feel despair at times at a lack of control over their lives. Yet their strong faith, persistence in pursuing an education, and kind words from others around them sustain them and help them overcome the hardships in their lives. Norvia’s Ojibwe family and the pre-WWI setting provide a great background to this young woman growing up in 1914 Michigan. This is a new classic in the making and I hope we will have more stories about Norvia and her extended family.
The Star That Always Stays by Anna Rose Johnson, (List Price: $17.99, Holiday House, 9780823450404, July 2022)
I get that the term "transportive" is overused in blurbs, but I don’t know how else to describe this gorgeous novel from Kali Fajardo-Anstine. I was swept away by Woman of Light, which follows five generations of the Lopez family from the nineteenth century into the 1930s, spanning across the Western territories of America. In beautiful, decadent prose, Fajardo-Anstine shows us everything from traveling circus acts and fortune tellers, to turn of the century Denver nightlife, house parties and wedding festivities. This is a love letter to the American West that was left out of the classic cowboy films, to the Indigenous and Latinx communities who have lived there for centuries. I loved every word.
Woman of Light by Kali Fajardo-Anstine, (List Price: 28, One World, 9780525511328, June 2022)
How do mosquitoes communicate? What does their society look like– and how would they view ours? “Wise Owl,” thus dubbed by the indigenous tribe he lives with in the Mexican jungle, is a misanthrope disgusted with society at large. When he figures out the language of the mosquitoes, Mosquil, Wise Owl hatches a plan to take ultimate revenge on human civilization. Heavy themes of faith, modernity, free will, and meaning are filtered through an ecological sci-fi sieve. Vonnegut’s Galapagos meets the Island of Dr. Moreau, with even more merited cynicism.
His Name was Death by Rafael Bernal, (List Price: $15.95, New Directions, 9780811230834, November 2021)