Story Book Scenery

Time for another photography post. As always, the pictures I have collected inspire my imagination, but this time the stories in my head are on our planet. There are no aliens or mythical creatures. I cannot rule out the possibility of magic, though.

(Each image links to its source. Please click through to appreciate the work of each photographer.)

We’ll start by visiting Norway. This photograph entranced me the first time I saw it and as I researched the origins for this post, it did so all over again. I stumbled across it shortly before Christmas and it seemed to me that I looked at Christmas. Or, at least, the story book version of it.

All I know is that it’s Norway and it’s gorgeous.

It’s a beautiful scene and I’d love to credit the original photographer. If anyone recognises it, please let me know.

The next photo is from an Italian Photographer by the name of Riccardo Criseo, and…I lied. This one does, to me, hint at alien activity. It’s all happening here, on Earth, however. Comforting, I know.

Weather Lightning Landscape by Riccardo Criseo

My favourite aspect of this photo is the glimpse of city lights beneath the clouds. There are storied down there, and they run on, regardless of what is stirring the heavens above.

The next image is from Canada. I’ve seen a lot of photographs of bubbles caught beneath the ice. It’s a picturesque phenomenon. What I love about this image is the painterly quality of the light, particularly in the foreground. The grainy texture of the ice almost seems to be oil scratched against canvas.

Glass House – Lake Abraham by Paul Christian Bowman

There are a number of stories here. What lurks beneath the ice? And where is the photographer? Is he on the ice? If so, why? The photographer is Paul Christian Brown and he has a number of other pictures of frozen lakes on flickr.

The next photo is another winter scene. I love the way the light limns the trees. There is a feeling of expectation here, as if something momentous is about to happen.

Warmth in Winter by Prescott Devinney

I don’t know where this is taken, but I don’t think it matters. Story book settings can be anywhere, right?

As always, I have another fifty photos tucked away that I’d love to share. Until next time, please enjoy these.

Review: The Wolf at the End of the World

TheWolfAtTheEndOfTheWorld_ebookcoverThe Wolf at the End of the World by Douglas Smith.

Everything I’d expect from Douglas Smith!

I don’t read a lot of paranormal stuff. I prefer aliens, which to me are usually more plausible than vampires and werewolves. I don’t believe in magic or ghosts (much to the horror of many of my friends) and I think zombies are a horrifying fad and impossible! There are some interpretations of lore I like, though, and some authors I will read, almost regardless of what the story is. Douglas Smith and his debut novel, The Wolf At The End Of The World, fill both criteria.

Douglas Smith writes amazing short stories. When invited to read his debut novel and upon learning it was based on his award-winning short story Spirit Dance, I eagerly agreed. I finished the book last night. Douglas will, no doubt, be happy to know the last twenty pages were an emotional experience (read: messy), which is always what elevates a book from four to five stars for me. I love a story that hits all the emotional buttons from laughter to tears. When that happens, it goes without saying the writing is good and the story is engaging, the characters are deep enough to make me feel.

So, the story. The snippet on the back of the book pretty much covers it: A shapeshifter hero battles ancient spirits, a covert government agency, and his own dark past in a race to solve a murder that could mean the end of the world.

The shape-shifting hero is Gwyn Blaidd, whom I first met in ‘Spirit Dance’. He is Heroka, which is an Ojibwe term for shape-shifter. He happens to shift to a wolf, that is his ‘totem’. Other Heroka shift into other creatures. Their companion animal or pawakan, will offer a clue to their totem, which is usually a family of animals. The way the Heroka lore is tied into that of the Ojibwe and the Cree makes it almost plausible. While reading this book and after putting it aside, I had the feeling there were men and women up in Canada who could talk animals and shift into animal form. I believed in Wisakejack and Ed’s power as a Shaman.

In his introduction, Charles de Lint touches on the same points and the same feeling. It’s the interweaving of lore and ideas that gives this novel so much substance. Douglas does not stop there, though. He has also written a cautionary tale. He has used the tradition of storytelling — detailed so beautifully in the book when Zach visits Wsakejack — to offer a warning about our impact on the environment.

Zach is a special character, a young blind boy who is central to every plot. His story arc had wonderfully unexpected turns. Though this is undoubtedly Gwyn’s novel, there were many other characters who also shone brightly. The aforementioned Ed, for instance. I absolutely adored his role and Caz was a trip. Blue hair, nose rings, attitude and all. I highlighted quite a few of her lines as I read. I also highlighted some of Mary’s. The girl had spunk and her return to Thunder Lake was a welcome surprise.

Given the number of awards Douglas has won for his short stories, it’s hardly surprising he’s written such a fabulous book and it’s lovely to be able to say so, unreservedly. I really enjoyed The Wolf At The End Of The World and I’m happy to have a copy to put on my shelf. With adventure, intrigue, shape-shifters, family, a touch of romance and a lot of heart, this is a book I’d recommend for readers of all genres.

Written for and originally posted at SFcrowsnest.