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Young Adult Fiction General

Those Who Dwell Below

by (author) Aviaq Johnston

illustrated by Toma Feizo Gas

Inhabit Media
Initial publish date
Jun 2019
General, Aboriginal & Indigenous, Polar Regions, Coming of Age
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jun 2019
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Oct 2019
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 12 to 18
  • Grade: 8 to 12
  • Reading age: 12


Haunted by the vicious creatures of his recent past, Pitu tries to go back to a normal life at home after the other-worldly travels and near-death encounters of his recent disappearance into the world of the spirits. But Pitu knows that there is more work to be done, and more that he must learn in his new role as a shaman. When word of a starving village nearby reaches Pitu, he must go help its people appease the angry spirits. It soon becomes clear that Pitu must travel to the bottom of the ocean to meet Nuliajuk, the vengeful woman below, one of the most powerful beings in Inuit mythology. There he learns about his role in saving the starving community and that all in his home camp may not be as it seems . . .

About the authors

Aviaq Johnston is a young Inuk author from Igloolik, Nunavut. Her debut novel Those Who Run in the Sky was shortlisted for the 2017 Governor General's Literary Award for Young People's Literature, was a finalist for the Foreword INDIES Award for Young Adult Fiction, and a 2017 Honour Book for the Burt Award for First Nations, Inuit and Métis Young Adult Literature. In 2018 she won the inaugural Indigenous Voices Award for Most Significant Work of Prose in English by an Emerging Indigenous Writer. She is also the author of the bestselling picture book, What's My Superpower? Aviaq loves to travel and has lived in Australia and Vietnam. She spends most of her time reading, writing, studying, and procrastinating. She divides her time between Iqaluit, Nunavut, and Ottawa, Ontario.

Aviaq Johnston's profile page

Toma Feizo Gas's work can be found gracing the pages, and covers of titles for the Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, Star Wars, and Mutant Chronicles role-playing games, as well as several upcoming fantasy novel series.

Toma Feizo Gas' profile page


  • Short-listed, Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic — Young Adult Fiction
  • Short-listed, CODE Burt Award for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Young Adult Literature

Excerpt: Those Who Dwell Below (by (author) Aviaq Johnston; illustrated by Toma Feizo Gas)

The water was glacial, crushing the breath out of Pitu’s lungs and squeezing his stomach tight. His thoughts and worries left his mind, and all that remained was panic rushing through his entire body. As he sank beneath the ice, Pitu felt as though he was being stabbed from all directions. For a moment, he thought it might be the qallupilluit, their long, sharp nails piercing him. Eventually, Pitu opened his eyes, and for a moment they burned. But he could see that he was alone in the darkness. Soon the burning dissipated. He looked around, and above him he could see a jagged cast of light. As he descended, as he watched that light drifting farther and blurring with the salt and ice, a calmness engulfed him.

Pitu held his breath, but he also felt the absence of needing to breathe. The current kept pulling him deeper into the ocean. The stabbing pain of the cold had stopped, and now Pitu only felt numb. The light had disappeared completely now. Though he was surrounded by darkness, Pitu was comfortable in it.

His eyes began to adjust to the darkness and suddenly there was no darkness at all. The water surrounding him had turned a beautiful shade of blue, and inexplicable floes of ice floated around him. The floes cast bright lights that were unlike sunlight or moonlight. Their soft glow created an exquisite colourful aura.

This isn’t how nature works, Pitu thought.

Editorial Reviews

The novel is deeply layered and rewarding...Through a lithe series of philosophical dialogues about tradition and change, arrogance and respect, Pitu must think deeply about himself and his community. Readers are sure to come away with a broader sense of these themes. The book’s stark yet striking illustrations add a further layer for contemplation.

Rich in detail and culturally nuanced, any reader will find the story approachable and connect to its themes of friendship, compassion, and trust...An elegant sequel that can dwell on its own.

Johnston beautifully blends a portrait of the traditional Inuit life on the land with Inuit mythology and folklore to create a novel that will grab young readers from the first page...Johnston not only effortlessly mixes fact and fiction but has also created in Pitu a character that young readers will care deeply about – good thing, since there’s a third book in the works.

[Aviaq Johnston's] writing, which includes traditional culture and mythology, opens the door to an entirely new world for her southern Canadian audience. She helps her readers travel to a part of Canada which most of us will never experience firsthand. She introduces readers to the sights and sounds and smells of the Arctic as well as to traditional culture.

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