A vexatious shapeshifter walks among humans. Shadowy beasts skulk at the edges of the woods. A ghostly apparition haunts a lonely stretch of highway. Spirits and legends rise and join together to protect the north.
Land-Water-Sky/Ndè-Tı-Yat’a is the debut novel from Dene author Katłıà. Set in Canada’s far north, this layered composite novel traverses space and time, from a community being stalked by a dark presence, a group of teenagers out for a dangerous joyride, to an archeological site on a mysterious island that holds a powerful secret.
Riveting, subtle, and unforgettable, Katłıà gives us a unique perspective into what the world might look like today if Indigenous legends walked amongst us, disguised as humans, and ensures that the spiritual significance and teachings behind the stories of Indigenous legends are respected and honored.
We acknowledge the support of Arts Nova Scotia.
“This book brought a lot of memory for me when Elders used to tell stories sitting around and visiting my parents and telling stories about nąhgąą. The story was so descriptive the way the Elders told stories. I related to all the events of the story because its very similar to the stories I’ve heard. Mahsı Cho for keeping our stories alive.”
— Maro Sundberg, Executive Director at Goyatiko Language Society
“In the era of pre-contact, ancient stories were deeply engrained in the landscape from which it derives from. They inspire traditional storytellers to pass onto current times, a frame to support today’s tellings and in this writing, it’s an extension too snippets of stories heard, the collisions of changing times of life in the raw, taking many forms of intrigue, an ongoing tradition, a shapeshifting.”
— John B. Zoe, traditional knowledge holder from Tlicho Territory, Senior Advisor with the Tłı̨chǫ Government, Chairperson of Dedats’eetsaa: the Tłı̨chǫ Research & Training Institute
Katlıa has created a masterpiece that brilliantly weaves intriguing characters, history, culture, love for the land, water and sky into a riveting and magnificent read.
— Monique Gray Smith, author of Tilly and the Crazy Eights
Her character is drawn from accounts of water creatures in the Great Slave Lake, Katłįà says. Lafì (girl) moves to Coppertown for adventure and falls for a man who isn’t exactly as he appears. “I wanted every character to be connected in some way, and I left it open for there to be complete novels for each character’s backstory,” Katłįà explains. “Many of the events in the book are based on similar experiences that I’ve had in my life, such as child apprehension. I wanted to keep the issue of domestic violence at the forefront to open the difficult conversation around familial violence and sexual harassment.”
This is a book filled with lessons and warnings, hope and inspiration, and Katłįà hopes readers can identify with some of the characters.
“I hope that they will be able to make the connection to the themes of the book, which are respecting women, children, and Elders, as well as the land and water,” Katłįà says.“I’m hoping that readers will become interested in learning more about the North and the connection to the spirit world and the rich Indigenous knowledge that we still have here in the North.”
— Laura Kupcis, Prairie Books Now, Issue 77, Fall/Winter 2020/21 (full review)