3 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
Sunhides is a brave young boy who lives in the Ice Age. One day, he goes hunting with his best friends, Kingbird and Ballkicker. Caught by a terrible storm, they decide to enter a cave. When Sunhides outruns the other two, he does not know that they may never meet again. The cave proves to be a hikwapa, a hole in the wind and entrance to the spirit world. In modern-day Oregon, Sally, a Shoshone woman interested in paleontology, and Running Bear, a stocky Paiute, find a young boy lying on the road. They assume he is the victim of a hit-and-run accident, but they wonder why the boy is carrying a spear and wearing buckskin clothes.
On the same day they find the strange-looking boy, Sally and Running Bear hear of a mysterious disappearance. Timothy O’Grady and Philip Hardwick, two young men gone on a fishing expedition, vanish without a trace when a storm forces them to find shelter in a cave. Unbeknown to Sally and Running Bear, Tim and Phil have travelled back in time to a world of glaciers, prehistoric mammals, and Neolithic people. Will they be able to survive in the wilderness? Could they find a way back to the familiar life they were accustomed with?
Lost Across the Ocean by Jack Enright delivers only some answers to these questions. The open ending leaves room for more exploits in a sequel. At 200 pages, the book is a short and exciting read. It can be best described as a thrilling adventure novel filled not only with action and suspense, but also with magnificent descriptions of a pristine natural landscape. Since the author is a naturalist who hiked extensively in the wilderness of Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and California, he does a great job of describing the flora and fauna in the region and imagining how things must have looked like 15,000 years ago. In addition, the book pays a wonderful tribute to North American indigenous tribes and teaches valuable lessons on environmental protection.
Despite the use of the time travel concept, the story flows smoothly. The author was also extremely helpful when providing a list of major and minor characters, an explanatory preface, and a glossary of the culture-specific terms inserted throughout the text. My only complaint is that out of the seven chapters of the book, only the first one focuses on Sunhides’ fate. All the other six chapters follow the ups and downs of Tim and Phil’s life in the Ice Age. I gradually got tuned in to their adventures and could not wait to discover what happened next. However, I kept wondering about Sunhides and his new life in the modern world. Perhaps a back and forth switch between the two worlds could have added more tension to the overall plot.
What I absolutely loved about this novel was the ineffable charm of a long-lost era the author so skillfully managed to recreate. Living side by side with prehistoric beasts like mammoths, sabertooh cats, and giant bears, Tim (“Mitomke”) and Phil (“Sulkeya”) rely on the help of the local tribes to read the signs of nature and survive in a hostile environment. When they are adopted by the Makah tribe (“the tribe of the Salmon People”), they get acquainted with a completely different lifestyle and a wide range of fascinating customs and traditions. If tribesmen are known for their courage, tracking skills, and hunting prowess, women also play a pivotal role in the life of the tribe and influence major decisions. Together with Tim and Phil, we learn many things about the tribe's superstitions, religious beliefs, ceremonies, daily activities, and trading system. Some characters stand out from the crowd like Redwing Blackbird, the powerful shaman of the Makah tribe. Tim is my favorite character because he has a kind heart and an adventurous spirit. Endowed by the author with a complex personality, he manages to perfectly integrate into the archaic world, but still has dreams and visions of his previous life.
There was nothing I particularly disliked about this book, so I would have probably given it the highest rating if it had not been for its poor editing. From this perspective, the novel is in dire need of professional help. Almost every page includes some editing errors, ranging from incorrect punctuation and misspellings to wrong verbal and pronominal forms. Since they were distracting at times, I am rating the book only 3 out of 4 stars. The characters do not use any profane words and phrases. Even if they are often in danger, the more violent scenes are not excessively graphic. The protagonists fall in love and develop new relationships. Nevertheless, there are no erotic scenes. As a consequence, I am recommending Lost Across the Ocean to both younger readers and a more mature audience with a penchant for adventures in the wilderness, the beauty of nature, and the life of extinct civilizations. I am looking forward to reading the sequel.
Lost Across the Ocean
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon