Min Wills is in for the most terrifying experience of her young life when an escaped prisoner, her 'Monster' holes up in their warm kitchen, unaware that she sleeps in the attic. Now Min must devise her own means of escape, lead the madman away before her parents come home, thereby placing her own life in jeopardy.
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When the worst storm in a decade blasts the area, it strands Min wills' parents out on an impassable highway, but provides the cover Bruno Hessle needs for his planned escape from the prison camp located upriver from the village of Quinnu.
Bruno who fancies himself as some sort of wild animal in his unstable mind holes up in the warm kitchen of her family home unaware that Min sleeps up in the attic for warmth. When he becomes aware of her, the chase begins. Bruno believes he is chasing a small animal, his 'prey' throughout the frozen backwoods. The chase provides the intensity for this book.
Bruno's mother Blossom waits in the city for news of her killer son. Valerie Mason also waits for news of the monster who tried to attack her in the past. His brother Franklin Hessle can't believe this is the same man who was a college professor before he lost his mind, became a wino whose identity was stolen by Jason Edgar, the escapee's real name. A half-breed deputy is sent out to his homeland to hunt the killer, known as the 'mutilator' in the city. Adam Cooper has roots in the village so his quest is two-fold. Min must 'make a stand', face her monster by using evrything she has been taught in her growing-up years on the reservation.
There are touches of the supernatural and mysticism throughout the book, such as Min's 'tomanomous' a large raven who helps keep her safe.†††
The long uneven line of brown-skinned Natives, dressed in bark vests and thinly twined cedar clothing waited patiently in the late afternoon sun. It was required learning for the young lads of the tribe who stood at their grandfathers' sides waiting for the demonstration to begin. A thousand years ago, these grandfathers were revered as holders of knowledge to be passed down through the centuries.
Long shadows of the men and their grandsons rippled crookedly upon the surface of the Quinnu river. The elders' features appeared scarred beyond recognition- each line in their faces denoting a hard won victory or some terrible defeat in their long harsh lives.
"Why are we here?" whispered Kawa, as he wriggled and tried unsuccessfully to withdraw his hand from his grandfather's large, rough one. He spoke in the native tongue, the only language he knew. It was before the coming of the White Man and all the changes that would follow in his wake. Sometimes a stray hunter or trapper down from Canada crossed their paths, but they were a rarity.
"Watch and you shall see," answered Old Kawa gruffly and tightened his grip on the youngster's wiry arm.
Young Kawa strained his neck as he sensed, rather than heard, a shuffling farther down the line formed atop the high bank overlooking the cold river below. He watched carefully as a figure stepped out of the formation and made his way down the muddy slope toward the sand bar at the edge of the water. He found himself holding his breath in anticipation of what was to come.
Riverwater filled the young man's footprints as soon as he left them. He began shedding his garments, one by one. First he carefully laid his headdress made of giant eagle's feathers upon a sun-bleached drift log. Slowly he undid the fasteners of his bark vest on which brightly colored beads had been sewn. He then stepped out of his finely woven cedar trousers and stood naked before his audience. He raised his arms in salute to his Gods. Kawa recognized him as Cheeka from his village.
Still afraid to breathe, afraid he might interrupt something momentous, Kawa now gripped his grandfather's hand fiercely. He thought his eyes might fall from their sockets as he stood spellbound.
The hushed crowd watched as the lad put one foot into the water. Another. When he was up to his hips in the river, he dove in so quickly it astounded the crowd of younger boys standing above him, but they held back their pleased gasps.
Kawa could not tear his eyes from the figure that swam dizzily in the water, first this way, then that. Up, down, back, forth. Soon the dark figure just below the surface resembled something else - not the boy who went into the river.
Kawa's chin thrust forward as he squinted his eyes, hoping to gain a clearer picture. What has happened? Where did Cheeka go? All he saw now was the swift movement of a sleek ebony seal where the boy swimmer had been! Where is Cheeka? He strained so hard against his grandfather's grip, he nearly slipped over the bank and the old man had to use both hands to restrain him.
He had no recourse, as well as the rest of the youngsters, but to observe the display before them. That satiny black seal performed well. It dove deep, returned to the surface and leapt high into the air where, Kawa swore, it winked at him! It did belly rolls under water, circles within circles, and tricks undreamed of before. Finally, it streaked down river toward its mouth until it could no longer be seen. When the young lads thought the show was over and prepared to leave the shoreline, the trim animal returned, lazily swimming in small circles toward the river's edge. There its head emerged. The fading sun glistened wetly upon its coat as the animal arose from the river, flinging droplets of water every which way.
Kawa used one hand to cover his mouth as the transformation took place. The beautiful black seal slowly evolved into the young man, Cheeka, again. His long legs appeared, then his arms and head. There was no remnant of the seal to be seen. The swimmer returned to his clothing on the parched log, dressed, and disappeared into the fog that was fast filling up the valley.
"Wha...?" Kawa began.
Grandfather silenced him with a gentle squeeze of his upper arms. The elder members of the tribe turned with their young charges in hand and walked away from the river's high banks.
Only Kawa and his grandfather remained. They slid down the muddy, clay-like, hill and Kawa could hardly contain himself as the old man gathered a few twigs and driftwood to build a fire. When it was burning low and steady he began.
"We, each and every one of us, contain an animal spirit. whether we are aware of it or not. Whether we make use of it or not, it is still there. The feat we have to undertake when it becomes known to us, is 'control'." He emphasized the word to make the point clear.
Kawa sat on his haunches as he watched Grandfather stir the ashes with a hollow willow stick. When a glowing ember appeared, he put it to his lips and inhaled. The smoke smelled sweet to the boy's nostrils. He waited. He knew there was no hurrying Grandfather.
"Some call it our 'Tomanous'. Some have other words for it. White men say it is their Guardian Angel. I do not care either way. I know it exists and my purpose is to inform you, my son. And warn you. Some men have been known to use their spirit guide for evil purposes, against their enemies, or to accomplish harmful deeds. This is not its purpose! Use it only for 'Good', and you will live a long, satisfying life."
Kawa noted that Grandfather's eyes gleamed like gold in the light from the fire. This moment will never to be forgotten. "Young Cheeka who you just saw in the demonstration is living proof of what I try to teach you. His grandfather taught him well. Now that the control over his animal spirit is complete, he is the youngest bishop in the church and a good leader to follow."
"I want to be like him," stated Kawa. As an afterthought, he asked in a hushed voice, "What if it is used for Evil, what happens then?"
"Then all the Evil Gods will visit their wrath down upon you! That is why I stress - do not let it control you! If you let the Innerbeast rule - you are lost!"
They sat warming their hands over the fire, flames flickering shadows over their faces, and thought of the future.
Min's Monster-reviewed by Kathy Campbell- The Quill Review
Young Min passes up a pre-Thanksgiving trip into the City to have some time alone, never suspecting that itís a decision that may mean the end of her life. A fierce snowstorm strands her parents in the city, and provides the cover needed for a maniacal serial killer, Bruno Hessle, to walk away from the minimum security prison located near Minís village. Cold, hungry and rapidly losing his mind, Bruno takes up residence in Minís house, forcing her to use everything sheís been taught to attempt an escape.
News of the escape is reported to the police sending bi-racial Adam Cooper into the storm and back to his native village powered by an overwhelming sense of impending doom. As the story is picked up and broadcast by the news media, Brunoís mother, an escaped victim, and Minís parents all struggle to fight there way back to the village through snow and ice covered roads. With the weather hindering all of their efforts, the characters each embark on personal examination and the circumstances that brought them to this place.
Set in the 1950ís in rural Washington, this story takes the reader into the twisted mind of a serial killer, the troubled thoughts of an earnest and dedicated police officer and the innocent young girl growing up poor in an Indian village. Richly woven with description of a time gone by, readers will relate to these characters and the internal struggles hindering their everyday life.
Min's Monster- reviewed by Margaret Orford - AllBooks Reviews
Minís worst nightmare is going to become a real, living nightmare. Min skips out on a family trip to the city. Meanwhile, Bruno Hessle, a serial killer, is waiting to escape from a minimal security prison near Minís home. Once a huge snowstorm hits, he makes his escape and ends up in Minís kitchen. Min needs to escape from her attic room without Bruno, the monster, knowing; but Bruno soon realizes that the house is not empty. He knows that Min is in the house and that she is alone. He sees Min as his next victim, and he becomes the animal within, stalking his prey.
The novel is a mosaic of individual character stories. First, there is Min, her intense fear and her clever strategies of escape. Then there is Bruno, the monster, who is everything this label defines. This character has a history of horrible, brutal deeds and the author is quite blunt in her description of all that goes through Brunoís head. The story also contains the parents, who have this feeling that their daughter, Min, is in trouble. They brace the snow-covered roads to get back to her. Meanwhile, the sheriff is on a manhunt for the escaped serial killer. He acts on premonitions that that he must go to the Quinnu village. The author also weaves in a few other people of interest, including Brunoís mother and a victim who managed to escape. It makes for an interesting read as these characters and their internal feelings and agonies shape the story.
Lila L. Pinord resides in Port Angeles, Washington, and graduated from Western Washington University with a degree in Accounting. She was born and raised in a Native American fishing village similar to the one used in the book. This is her third novel, her first novel, Skye Dancer, was published in 2003, and her second novel, Evil Lives in Blue Rock, was published in 2005.
This novel is an interesting read, but with its many graphic details it may not be suitable for a younger audience. It is recommended by: Margaret Orford, Allbooks Reviews.
Reviewed by Gene Woodwick- Canoe People's Bookshelf
Lila Pinord has moved away from her intricate interweavings of strong American Indian spirituality, characterizations and placid Olympic Peninsula settlings in her latest book, Minís Monster. But her fans will not de disappointed. The sparseness of Pinordís writing forcefully presents irredeemable and relentless evilness in a tautly-paced story of murder and mayhem.
Pinordís latest bookóher thirdóis multi-layered. Minís Monster, the main character of the story is a depiction of how evilness, once put into action, eats the soul and sanity of mankind. Pinord deftly contrasts the monstrous acts of this escaped prisoner with the people of the Quinnu Indian Reservation who may be poor in material possessions but rich in familial love, deep friendships and abiding generosity of spirit and possessions.
Short sentences and quickly changing narrative of the Monsterís hunt for an innocent child provides for riveting reading. The evilness of the monster becomes out of control as nature and circumstances in the village spin out of human control.
The monsterís mother, Min, a nurse, and a neer-do-well, blue collar worker are drawn into the mesh of evil as it surrounds the Quinu village. A sheriff, a forest ranger, a highway heavy equipment operator are all sucked into the evil vortex.
Native American spirituality is not ignored but Pinord handles it in a subtle way that may not be completely understood by non-Indians but those with Indian heritage will certainly understand all the nuances.
By the end of the horrifying tale, the reader becomes aware of the underlying and subtle lesson Pinord is teaching using the Monster as a symbol for an issue confronting many rural Indian villages today. Urban violence and darkness has been brought to the reservations by those who practice the violence of drugs and lawlessness find their escape into the isolated communities of the family elders to prey upon the gentleness of the people whose life has been a practice of traditional respect.
Pinordís fans will want to read Minís Monster the first time just for the story. But be wanred it is not a book to read when you are alone! But, the reader will have to read it again to savor the nuaces of the book.
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Reader Reviews for "Min's Monster"
|Reviewed by Jeannine Reardon
|Lila Pinord's "Min's Monster" was a fantastic read. The chapters are fairly quick, and I found myself "finding time" in my busy schedule to "read just one more..." Although the beginning was a bit slow to start for me - more so of my hectic schedule, rather than anything else - that did not last long at all...the author quickly reels you in and DOES NOT let go!
I loved the way the characters were brought together by fate, and more so, the way the author incorporates local legends into the storyline.
A very, very enjoyable read, and I'm looking forward to reading more of her books!
J.R. Reardon, author, "Confidential Communications"
|Reviewed by Gary Tenuta
|"A Page Turning Chill Ride!"
Lila Pinord's suspense/thriller, Min's Monster, is definitely a page turner. I planned to start reading it this afternoon, figuring I'd probably finish it tomorrow because I had other things I needed to get done today. Wrong! Once I was into the story there was no way I was going to put it down before I found out what happened in the end.
This is the second novel by Pinord that I've had the pleasure of experiencing. I say "experiencing" rather than just "reading" because that's the way I feel when I jump into one of her books. It reminds me of hopping into one of the cars on a track at a Disneyland thrill ride and you just hold on for the duration of the ride, never quite knowing for sure what's coming around the next bend.
As with Pinord's other novel, Skye Dancer, she has once again drawn from her own Native American background adding just enough slices of that culture's tradition and folklore to add a unique, underlying, "mystical" dimension to the story. In doing so I believe Pinord is not only helping to keep the Native American culture from vanishing but she is bringing intriguing elements of it into the world of readers outside of that culture.
Also in keeping with Skye Dancer, her other suspense/thriller, Pinord has created yet another disturbingly creepy villain to terrorize the victim. This time the villain is a maniacal, seriously deranged serial killer recently escaped from a minimum security prison located near a coastal fishing village in Washington State. The victim is an innocent 12-year-old Native American girl named Min Wills who lives in the village.
It's sometime in the 1950s. It's the day before Thanksgiving. Min's family decides to make the 100-mile trip into the city to do some pre-Thanksgiving shopping. Min, however, decides to stay home alone. We know right away, this can't be good. A light snow begins to fall but soon evolves into a full-blown, wind-howling, snow storm. Again, not a good sign. Meanwhile, a serial killer - a huge monster of a man - is making his escape, tramping through the forests and heading straight for the village. The wind is beginning to howl, it's freezing cold outside, and you know things can only get worse from this point on. Think about it. You're 12 years old. You're home alone. Your house is relatively isolated from the others in the village. Your family is a hundred miles away. A snow storm is getting so bad it will soon make the roads impossible to navigate. A deranged serial killer - so brutal that he cut out his mother's tongue - is on the loose and is approaching the village. Worse yet, it's nearly nightfall. If this isn't a set-up for a terrifying nightmare, I don't know what is.
You might want to put on a heavy, winter coat when you read Min's Monster because if the blustering cold from the wind and snow that Pinord manages to sustain throughout the pages doesn't get you then the spine-tingling chill of the night chase through the dark woods - to an uncertain end - most assuredly will.
|Reviewed by dennis batchelder
|Strong suspense, great sense of place
Min's Monster takes place during and right after a terrific snowstorm in Washington State. Pinord lets us into the minds of a serial killer escaping from prison, a child (Min) hidden upstairs in the house in which he holes up, the child's parents, a sherrif's deputy struggling with a bittersweet homecoming, and the killer's mother, victim, and father of a victim.
As Pinord ratchets up the suspense and lets the blizzard howl, we learn more about the killer's serial past. Young readers beware: Pinord gets a bit graphic describing his crimes.
Pinord has created a vivid, evil monster to hate. Min is easy to root for: her "let me try" attitude makes her very sympathetic.
I liked how Pinord weaved in a few Native American trivia and legends - the "tomanous" concept was fascinating, and it provided a nice overall theme to the story. I look forward to reading Pinord's other books.