Eli is new to the foster care system, but his foster sister Morgan has been in it almost her whole life and barely remembers her biological family and indigenous roots. At first all Morgan wants is to be left alone to read in her secret spot in the attic, but when she brings Eli there something magical happens: a drawing from his sketchbook opens a portal into another land. Misewa is trapped in a perpetual winter and populated by animals that walk on two legs and speak Cree and English. Eli feels at home, as a native Cree speaker and someone who grew up with folk tales about similar creatures. Morgan just wants to take Eli and get back to their foster home before they mess it all up and she gets kicked out again. But the more they learn about the land and how its inhabitants are suffering, the more they are drawn to help. Even if it means facing bitter cold, hunger, and the dangers that hide in the snow.
This is an outstanding series opener. It has echoes of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe but stands on its own with fully realized world-building and layered characters. I read this in the summer, but I could feel the chill as I read Robertson's descriptions of the harsh environment. I appreciated the bits of Cree language and culture woven throughout and can't wait to read the next installment.
The Barren Grounds (The Misewa Saga #1) by David Alexander Robertson
5th - 8th
tags: adventure, fantasy, global perspectives, People of Color