Steven Lee Climer
Indigo Books / 1st edition (January 1, 1999)
If you liked him in Dream Thieves… you’ll love him in Bearwalker. Climer is back with a radically different tale this time, a tale of shapeshifting, tradition, and love. He has left the Old Country behind to take on an even older world and an ancient culture right in our own backyards, in our own time.
Fret not — the fear remains.
David Walking Bear is a long way from home and he better keep his distance. Jeanette Towson ran away from the same background to keep her secret safe. Because, back on the reservation, are the people who know that the two of them are more than they appear.
David is a BearWalker, a shapeshifter who transforms into a creature that could make a werewolf wet himself. His entire life has been spent trying to fight against the change, but he has killed before. He would kill again to keep his true nature hidden.
An imperfect hero for a novel; one readers may have to choose to cheer, pity, or scorn.
Jeanette appears to be David’s mirror image at first — she is a BloodStopper, or healer. As a nurse, she is in the perfect position to use her ability to help the sick and dying. But she will find out before it’s all over that hers is a gift with even more horrifying possibilities.
Together, they go on the run, hiding from everyone, able to trust no one. Or, almost no one. They have enemies they haven’t even used yet. And, to add to their problems, a tabloid reporter looking for that career-making scoop is hot on their trail.
Bearwalker makes good use of unusual settings and little-known beliefs to make what could be just another werewolf story into something at once more complex and more elemental. This is not part of the werewolf/erotic wave that crowds the shelves in your favourite bookstore. Transients, alcoholics, and premature infants fill out the cast; there is no room left for dashing young strangers spraying silver bullets into the crowd.
David Walking Bear is far from the romantic figure most literature and films over the years have portrayed shapeshifters as being. With all his faults and mistakes, he is far closer to what you might expect from a real person trapped in such a dilemma. This is grounded horror — with its touch of mysticism, of course — but with a hefty dose of the everyday world to round it out. Climer doesn’t flinch at revealing that world either, even when it is a situation we would rather turn away from than have to face and admit that it exists.
Climer is fast moving up in the ranks of horror authors. Catch him now, and you can say you were one of the first to realise his talent. Bearwalker is another strong entry on his C.V., but go back to enjoy Dream Thieves to find him at his creepy best.
(Can I help it if that one really got to me?)