There are books for which the words "gem-like" and "compact" and "precise" apply, but West of Here isn't one of those. West of Here is: Epic. Sprawling. Visceral. Lusty. Big in every way -- it spans years and generations. Filled with characters who will stay with you long after the book is done, including the rugged wilderness of the Olympic penninsula itself, from Klallam Indian to modern-day Sasquatch hunter. Along the way there is love and blood and birth and death and human vs. nature. The story takes us from the settlers -- who first dammed a wild river -- to their descendents -- who want to tear the dam down to preserve the salmon run. The settlers' impulse to conquer the wild is set against the modern notion that it is nature that needs protection from humans. I know this is a cliche, but this is that rare almost-500 page tome that, when you get to the last page, odds are you will quietly mourn the departure of these characters from your life, and then quietly turn the book over and begin the adventure all over again.