The Other Ones by Jamesie Fournier is a collection of two short stories that gives the deep darkness of Northern winters a name and a face, leaving readers with a lingering sense that there are beings out there that are just as hungry and dangerous as we can be.
Accompanied by visceral illustrations by Toma Feizo Gas, this all-ages thriller brings Fournier’s storytelling to the page.
The Other Ones collects two tales of different beings from Inuit legends that, each in their own way, are able to prey on children who disregard their parents and the traditional knowledge that keeps them safe. Combining the immersive aspects of oral storytelling with the style of a picture book, Fournier’s stories highlight the important bond between parents and children and the way that this bond can have its own kind of power to keep all of them safe.
Chilling its characters and its readers to the bone, the first story in this collection, “The Net,” follows an unnamed mother and daughter in a tense encounter with the Inuunngittut — the “Other Ones” — after which this book is named. The second story, “Before Dawn,” chronicles an encounter that Sim, an Inuk boy, has with an ijiraq, a shape-shifting creature who lures Sim away from his home and across the tundra. Similar to the 2019 film Midsommar, Fournier’s second story warns that scary things do not always have to hide in the dark and reminds readers that just because the midnight sun is up, that does not mean that it isn’t still nighttime.
This writer-illustrator combination does creepy well. These richly described cautionary tales of children drifting too far away from home will tug at your heartstrings while also practically guaranteeing that your blood will run cold. In the same way that Fournier’s stories will haunt you even after you’ve put down The Other Ones, Gas’s illustrations will keep watching you even after you’ve turned the page on them. This effect is made even more powerful by the overall design of this book.
There was an incredible amount of care put into this project, and it shows on every page. Highly atmospheric, this book reflects the stories it holds. For example, during a sequence when someone is pulled under the ice into a freezing lake, an entire page in The Other Ones is blacked out, leaving the white writing visible in a way that is reminiscent of bubbles in dark water.
If you’re looking for a thriller to cozy up with or read to family over the holidays, this is the one for you.