The author's note for F. Jay Fuller begs to be quoted: "He’s turned ankles, pulled muscles, torn tendons, split nails, broken bones, fallen off cliffs, fallen out of trees, fallen in rivers, been lost, lost skin, lost teeth, lost his keys, had poison oak, had ticks, endured giardia, suffered frostbite, caught cold, and caught hell."
Fuller tells a compelling coming of age story of a young Chico boy, Ahto Twickanen, and his mysterious great uncle, Jaakko, in "Shadows In Winter" ($17.99 in paperback from Cool Waters Press; also available in Amazon Kindle e-book format). The journey begins with the annual Christmas trip to the Quincy area to visit Uncle Aigen. Ahto is ten, and his parents look forward to the big family gathering. Ahto looks forward to seeing Jaakko, seemingly a recluse holed up in a small cabin in the frozen Yukon, save for his sudden and strange Christmas Eve appearances.
A book signing will be held Thursday, March 21, at the new location of Lyon Books, 135 Main in downtown Chico (next to Peet's Coffee and Tea), at 7:00 p.m.
Though Lutheran, the family emigrated to America in the 19th century because they "disagreed strongly with church dogma regarding the treatment of those who clung to their native beliefs and practiced the old traditions. ... These were the Sámi, the pastoral people of the reindeer whom the outside world called 'Lapps'--one of the oldest and perhaps the least understood native people in all Europe."
Jaakko is deeply connected to the old practices and, as years pass, it become clear that Ahto (Jaakko calls him "Otso," "the name of a pet bear in the Kalevala, Finland's national epic") is also able to channel powers beyond the ordinary. When the teenage Ahto has a waking vision of Jaakko sick in his cabin, he and his father make the harrowing trip to the Yukon, to Jaakko. While his father and a guide travel back for help, Ahto stays to tend to his uncle. And Jaakko introduces him to the ways of the shaman, the noaide, which opens the door to the Land of Shadows, the spirit world.
Full of adventure and discovery, this well-written story carries on an ancient tradition--and brings it to Chico.