Their Future Depends on Unlocking the Secrets the Mountain Holds From the Past
Cassidy Ivanoff and her father, John, work at the new and prestigious Curry Hotel near the foot of Mount McKinley–Denali as it’s still called by the natives. John is the wilderness and exploration guide for the wealthy tourists while Cassidy works in the kitchen as Cook’s assistant. The entire staff buzzes with excitement during the busy days preparing for the President’s imminent visit. His historic trip to dedicate the new national park on his way to driving in the golden spike to officially complete the Alaska Railroad will be the beginning of a new era for all of them and place The Curry at the heart of Alaska.
Allan Brennan travels to the Curry Hotel to be an apprentice to the seasoned Alaska mountain guide, with hopes of discovering the truth about his father’s death on the mountain years earlier. His father’s business partner blames the guide for Henry Brennan’s untimely death, but Allan cannot be at peace until he knows for sure. He finds an unlikely ally in Cassidy, and as the two begin to look into the mystery, they suddenly find that things are much less clear, and much more dangerous, than either could ever imagine.
For anyone who has ever dreamt of visiting Alaska, In the Shadow of Denali is a must read. During my years in the majestic state, I ventured south to Seward and north to Talkeetna, both of which are mentioned in the book. It was from the Talkeetna Airport that a pilot/friend allowed me to glimpse a birds eye view of Denali. This story helped me revisit these places in my mind and to imagine what life may have been like in 1923.
From the opening lines of the prologue to the last page there exists a delightful tension. It begins with a tragic expedition which claims the life of one climber. Six years later Allan Brennan unknowingly accepts a position working for John Ivanoff, the man who served as his father’s guide on the ill fated expedition. Bitterness and anger consume his thoughts, even as he finds himself falling for the John’s daughter. At this point the story takes a profound turn towards love, forgiveness, and faith.
Through their collaborative efforts, Peterson and Woodhouse capture a sense of anticipation surrounding the birth of Mt. McKinley National Park. Historic details about early attempts to summit Denali, daily operation of the Curry Hotel, and the railway responsible for delivering visitors into such a remote region of the Alaska Territory add a profound richness to the story. All combined—imagery, history, fiction, and faith—In the Shadow of Denali leaves readers clamoring for the second installment of The Heart of Alaska series.
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Many thanks Bethany House Publishers for providing me with a review copy. All opinions are my own.