Written as a memoir, much of this book takes place in 19th Century America. Rosa Coleman was a part of high society in Philadelphia. After witnessing her husband sodomizing Daniel, their young son, she picked him up and fled across uncharted America by train and steamboat. Pinkerton detectives working for her husband were never far behind.
Months later, they found themselves in San Francisco, heading to Alaska to look for gold. Alaska was also as far way from Philadelphia as Rosa and Daniel could go. They were in the company of Doc and Charles, an older man and his son, also looking to strike it rich. Rosa and Doc hit it off, by 19th Century standards, pretty quickly. The only strange thing about Rosa and Daniel's journey was that every so often a raven would come down out of the sky, land in front of them, and squawk the words "No gold" before leaving.
Rosa decided to stay in the town of Sitka, rather than join the men in the Alaskan wilderness. She got a job as a schoolteacher, and met Gordon, part Russian priest and part shaman. They are both there to teach, and hopefully convert, the local Tlingit (native) children. The raven is considered a trickster in many cultures, including Tlingit.
After several months, Rosa received a letter from Charles saying that Doc and Charles were shot and killed in a streetcorner dispute. In a fit of despair, Rosa took out a pistol that she kept for protection, and was prepared to use it on herself. At that moment, a talking raven, part Gordon and part trickster, flew into her cabin and took her on a journey. She visited a planet of man-sized, mobile, intelligent plants. She visited a planet whose sun was stationary in the sky. She visited a devastated Times Square, far in her future. She was turned into a golden eagle, and into a carnivorous dinosaur. Rosa was taught all about alternate universes, and was returned to one where Doc and Daniel were still alive, because they hadn't yet made the trip into the Alaskan wilderness.
This is an excellent novel, but a pretty "quiet" novel. The science fiction doesn't start until about the last quarter of the story. By the end, it gets nice and weird, and will give the reader plenty to consider. Two thumbs up.