|Cryptozoology, BioForteana, Zoological Oddities, Unusual Natural History|
BioFortean Review Book Review
Valley of the Skookum
Reviewed by Craig Heinselman, editor CRYPTO, Peterborough, NH
Bigfoot, Aliens, Strange Lights, and Spirituality. These items may seem opposed at first light to an interested reader. I want a book on Bigfoot, on UFO’s or on spirituality, not one that touches on aspects of them all. Bigfoot is flesh-and-blood, spirituality is in the head, UFO’s have no place in Bigfoot research. All these may float through the head.
But, Bigfoot is not the core of this book, nor are UFO’s or other phenomenon. The core of the book is a four year, if not life-time, look at ones self from the inside and out. This is not an exploratory book on what is out there in terms of mysteries; this is an exploratory book as to what is inside us. What we see, what we think and how life is connected.
Sali Sheppard-Wolford writes in the first person, she outlines her experiences in the Carbon River Valley of Washington during a period of time starting in 1977. Her experiences with “Skookum”, her experiences with spirit guides, her experiences with Native Americans, but her interaction with her family and the environment ever so much at the forefront.
We all go through periods in our lives where events unfurl that make us question our sanity and our faith. Not in the religious sense, but the internal mechanism that makes us human, makes us who we are. Sali exposes this inner mechanism, she exposes the trials and tribulations, and she exposes her soul and what her life was like, and how it changed her viewpoint and those around her as well over the course of but a few years.
As a piece of literature, the book works. It works as a narrative autobiography, a chronology of events presented in a manner that draws the reader in. You are not lectured to, you are not spoken down to; you are simply witnessing life in a descriptive narrative. If you were to pick this up as a piece of non-fiction aimed at Bigfoot research, as the subtitle makes note of, Four Years of Encounters with Bigfoot, then you would be disappointed. Disappointed strictly in the sense of expectation. Bigfoot books tend to chronicle evidentiary collection, methodologies of research, supposition in support of a hypothesis, or simply a collection of accounts. Within the Valley of the Skookum, the “Bigfoot” is dealt with on a more spiritual level, as a being of power and respect, of mystery and intrigue. Personal expositions are often criticized within the Bigfoot community. They lack supportive evidence, they lack credence as multiple occurrences of a strange phenomenon strike the mind hard by many individuals. So do not read the book with the expectation of a Bigfoot discourse.
The reader can look at this book in and enjoy it for what it is. The story of a journey. It would be as well done if presented as fiction or non-fiction, the style of presentation makes you care for the characters and events. A true touch of an author in bringing this to the readers eye and mind.
Put aside your misconceptions about the book, and read it for the work itself. You may shake your head at areas where spirituality, UFO’s, strange phenomena and Bigfoot appear, especially if they do not fit the traditional, or your own, viewpoints. But read the book for what it does chronicle, the life and changing viewpoints of a woman, her family and by connection the world around her. You may not use the book as a reference item, or read it more than once, but it will be a read worth doing as the journey is worth the trip.
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