cover image Empire of Wild

Empire of Wild

Cherie Dimaline. Morrow, $27.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-06-297594-2

Dimaline’s inventive, passionate quest narrative (after her YA novel The Marrow Thieves) draws on the Métis myth of a werewolflike creature known as Rogarou. In the predominantly Catholic First Nations community of Arcand, Ontario, tales of the Rogarou haunt the town’s inhabitants (“Broke Lent? The rogarou will come for you”). After Joan Beausoleil argues one night with her husband, Victor, over whether she should sell her ancestral land, Victor walks out and never comes back, and Joan spends nearly a year searching for him. Dimaline wrenchingly describes Joan’s rabid determination, and conveys the passion of their early relationship. Just as Joan is about to give up hope, she recognizes Victor in a revival tent at a WalMart parking lot, but he claims not to know her and to be Rev. Eugene Wolff. Shocked and angry at being told that she’s mistaken, Joan sets out to discover what happened to him. Aided by her 12-year-old nephew and an elder who convinces Joan that Victor is under the spell of the Rogarou, Joan tracks the beast in search of answers. The novel is at times sad, at times humorous, and at times terrifying. Smartly written with believable characters, a tight plot, and breathtaking sentences, this is a must-read literary thriller. Agent: Ron Eckel, Cooke International. (July)