The Revenant by Michael Punke (Book Review)

The Revenant: A Novel of RevengeThe Revenant: A Novel of Revenge by Michael Punke

Horribly mauled by a grizzly. Robbed of your rifle, knives, flint and steel. Left for dead in an area where the native tribes do not take kindly to white intrusion. See what happens when you shove in where you don’t belong and weren’t invited? See?

Pack your bags to travel back in time 200 years, and remember you are not allowed to take antibiotics, GPS, matches, or modern weapons. Seriously. Stop reading this review and go read this fictional retelling of the story of Hugh Glass.

The ending did seem a bit anticlimactic, until you remember this book does not follow the standard formula that builds to successive crisis points with appropriate subplots and foreshadowing, ending with a grand climax and denouement. It is a combination of historical fiction and literary fiction, telling a tale based on real-life people and events, in a way that seems it was written not long after the events took place. Some find the biographical and historical passages boring; I loved them. They were informative lulls that whetted my appetite for the action to resume and breathed even more life into characters who did once live, including the title character Glass, legendary mountain man Jim Bridger, William Ashley, Captain Andrew Henry, the pirate Jean Lafitte, and Toussaint Charbonneau, the widower of Sacajawea.

I learned a few things, too: how to make a pine tar poultice, how to trap small creatures for food with nothing but rocks, how to eat cattails. The only thing I felt was lacking was a map. I know Fort Talbot was entirely fictional, but other places were not, and I would have liked to visually follow Glass’ route as he crawled down the Grand River, making his tortuous way toward reckoning and revenge.


Author: Deborah Lee

I like trees, dreaming, magic, books, paper, floating, dreaming, rhinos, rocks, stargazing, wine, dragonflies, trains, and silence to hear the world breathe.

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