THOSE WHO RUN IN THE SKY
Aviaq Johnston. Toma Feizo Gas (Illustrator), Inhabit Media (AUGUST), Softcover $13.95 (200pp), 978-1-77227-121-8 Inuit culture is presented as complex and fascinating. Those Who Run in the Sky is the heartrending and riveting story of a young Inuit boy named Pitu, one of the best hunters in his village with aspirations to be a great leader and shaman. While he is out hunting, a blizzard arrives, leaving Pitu stranded alone with just a few of his supplies. But he discovers that he is not just lost; he has disappeared from his own world, into the spirit world.
The creatures of the spirit world are malevolent demons intent on harming Pitu and those from his world. They can directly attack him as a trespasser in their home. To escape the dangerous world around him and get back home to his family and Saima, the girl he loves, he must become a fullfledged shaman, with a bitter and lost old shaman, also trapped in the spirit world, as his only teacher.
The spirit world is chilling, inhabited by creatures of myth and terror—the stuff of an Inuit’s nightmares. The world around Pitu is barren and simple, a land of flat ice and snow, though the illustrative portrayals of spirits do more than enough to fill in the setting and illustrate every reason Pitu has to be afraid. Descriptions of the spirits are detailed, such the qallupilluq with their bulging eyes and slimy hair, which are simultaneously horrifying and enthralling.
Though specific traditions and lifestyles are rarely explained in great detail, Those Who Run in the Sky delves into Inuit culture in great depth. The world-building is gripping, with history and mythology blending together. From the cavalier mention of tattoos appearing on Saima’s face over time, to the oral histories of different characters, Inuit culture is presented as complex and fascinating.
Those Who Run in the Sky is a haunting tale, with both Inuit culture and a ghoulish spirit world explored in a thrilling and arresting manner.