Mandy Haggith - Bear Witness (3 stars)

Novel of many elements explores reintroduction of bears

Mandy Haggith - Bear Witness


In this all-too-human portrayal of the fight for the wild, we follow Callis MacArthur, a bear-loving ecologist, through the aftermath of the shooting of the last wild Norwegian cub. Angered by this violence, Callis endangers both her career and her relationships to join the campaign for the reintroduction of bears, not only to Norway, but Scotland too.

This is a novel of many elements: part myth, part romance, part feminist, part activist, part environmental politics – all of which vie for the reader's attention. The separate elements would make for an interesting read, but the combination is a little cumbersome.

The book would benefit from more about the animals themselves. Mandy Haggith writes beautifully about them, and the landscape in which they thrive, and it's in these scenes where you find the heart of the novel. Unfortunately the bears are few and far between, and the novel lacks the depth to convince the reader without them.

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