Wendigos in the Wilderness

Author: Candace Nola

Troy’s sister and her daughter, Casey, are missing in the Alaskan wilderness, lost without their gear, without explanation. Troy is frantic. It’s not like them to not communicate plans, much less to leave their survival gear. Something went wrong, bad wrong. Troy must find them before it’s too late, and both the locals and the police tell him there is only one man who knows the wilderness well enough to find them in time: the elusive Bishop. When the two meet up, the search begins, but Bishop knows more than he is telling. Bishop also IS more than he is telling. This wilderness is more than just beautiful scenery. It’s an ancient battleground, and a powerful evil is stalking the land. Only Bishop can potentially stop it – he’s made it his life’s mission. To do this, he might have to reveal his own secrets though.

Bishop is a fascinating novella with a unique storyline. We have everything from shapeshifting to my all-time favorite monsters: the vicious Wendigo. The killings are brutal, the gore intense, yet the emotions are lacking, the characters props for a good story, but uncomplicated, puppeted to progress the story. We want more from them, especially the enigmatic and powerful Bishop, whose own story and mission could fill books.

My big problem with Bishop was its length. It was long enough to be a good story and get the imagination churning, but too short to give the characters time to come alive. Or perhaps that’s not true – Edgar Allen Poe could generate characters, their madness and twisted emotions, very powerfully in a few pages. Perhaps, then, the length is only part of the issue. Whatever it was, the characters are pawns. We’re told how they feel – sad, afraid, loyal, etc. but the showing is remote. It’s all action and adventure, but the human element takes a back seat, and this hurts an otherwise powerful story.

Віщун, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Bishop himself trusts too soon and reveals his secrets all too soon. His story, which is fascinating and chilling, comes out too quickly. A man like this, with this secret, would not reveal everything so easily nor would he suddenly abandon a lifetime of hermitude to trust the first person he happens to team up with.

Likewise, I had some questions after Bishop’s story – why did his plan take so long? Why did this sworn enemy not finish him as a child? Why? How? What makes NOW magical? If Bishop knew all along where this creature’s den was, why the delay in vengeance . . .  too much of the story is backfilled instead of organically flowing. It was too quick. The pace needed to slow, the story allow the chilling background to unravel. And there needed to be some serious logic around the timing of events.

Overall, Bishop was still enjoyable. It’s a powerhouse of a story, and despite my questions, the plot carries itself. I wanted more though. I wanted time to live in this unique story and to hear these characters’ tales around the fire, to watch them come alive, to feel their emotions of horror and bravery, to experience the fearsome wilderness as they did, and to hear the snuffing of a supernatural enemy scrabbling in the brush, waiting to feed an insatiable, unholy hunger.

– Frances Carden

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Frances Carden
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