EMPIRE OF WILD
By Cherie Dimaline
At the outset of Cherie Dimaline’s new novel, “Empire of Wild,” a Métis lady named Joan Beausoliel is grappling with the lack of her husband, Victor. She can’t know for positive whether or not he’s useless or merely left city; she solely is aware of that he’s been lacking for the higher a part of a yr, following a heated argument between them. And so Joan dwells in a state of despair and ambiguity — a form of Schrödinger’s marriage.
That mix of close-knit emotional bonds and ambiguous menace recurs in plenty of varieties right here. Soon sufficient, the menace transcends marital anxieties. One afternoon, Joan wanders right into a tent the place the Rev. Eugene Wolff, a touring preacher, is about to handle a congregation. That the Reverend is the spitting picture of her husband, albeit with a extra conservative haircut, is the primary discordant observe for Joan. The second is that he has no concept who she is. The third is the presence, in the identical revival tent, of a person named Thomas Heiser, who tells Joan that her husband is useless — data she wouldn’t anticipate from a whole stranger.
Joan makes an attempt to determine if the Reverend actually is Victor — typically together with her 12-year-old cousin, Zeus, in tow — and, if he’s, clarify his weird transformation. Shortly after her encounter with the Reverend, Joan’s grandmother is brutally killed, including one other layer of thriller to the proceedings, and hinting that one thing much more sinister is afoot.
Dimaline establishes the potential of the supernatural early on. Before introducing Joan, the writer affords an account of the founding of her neighborhood close to Georgian Bay in Ontario. “In any half-breed home there were jars of coins and a wistful plan to buy back the land,” Dimaline writes, “one acre at a time if need be.” It’s additionally on this opening chapter that Dimaline alludes to the hazard of the mythic creature generally known as “the rogarou,” “the threat from a hundred stories told by those old enough to remember the tales.” Francophone readers might observe the similarity between the rogarou and the loup-garou, however Dimaline’s narrative treads removed from werewolf clichés. As Joan digs deeper, she’s advised concerning the other ways somebody can turn out to be a rogarou: “Being attacked by a rogarou, mistreating women, betraying your people … that’s the ones we know around here, anyways.”