Under the Northern Lights, by Tracie Peterson, continues the “Alaskan Quest” story begun in Summer of the Midnight Sun. Beginning in September 1915, Under the Northern Lights picks up from the previous story’s cliffhanger ending, and finally resolves that story, while continuing the relationship issues between Jacob and Helaina.
This novel clearly works as part of a continuing story. It assumes familiarity with the first book, and as a middle piece it leaves another unclear ending. The final installment in this trilogy, Whispers of Winter, will be published this November (2006). Recognizing that the series is really one longer story, the publisher will soon also publish the “Alaskan Quest” as a complete set.
Chase Kincaid has already abducted Helaina Beecham, the Pinkerton agent originally sent to find the man responsible for crimes back East. Now Chase abducts Leah as well, and part of the story involves the typical “chase” story of the abducted ones with their captor, and their loved ones following their trail. Beyond this subplot (which is resolved halfway through the book), though, we see Leah and Helaina grow and mature from their experiences. Leah learns to trust God, even when bad things happen to her, and accept God’s ability to heal her soul. Meanwhile, Helaina must deal with her attitude of justice at all costs, and learn that some things are more important than what money can buy.
Under the Northern Lights continues the fast-paced and enjoyable reading, along with more time getting to know the main characters: Jayce Kincaid and his evil twin brother Chase, Leah (now married to Jayce), Jacob Barringer and Helaina Beecham. Though some story elements are clearly far-out—such as an evil twin abducting his brother’s wife and headed into the wilds of Alaska as winter sets in—many relational aspects are presented realistically enough.
The historical and regional background is again well-established. The “real world” of the lower 48 states is in the background, with only brief references to the events of World War I. However, the day-to-day survival life in Alaska is ever-present, a simple yet attentive world in which the characters must always be vigilant and prepared for the weather. The author skillfully blends her research into the ongoing story—through the many chores and activities of a small Alaskan village, along with great dialog and interactions with the missionaries and local natives—to create an interesting picture of Alaska in 1915 and 1916.
Under the Northern Lights is an enjoyable historical fiction novel, a great follow-up to the beginning of this “Alaskan Quest” story.