Bad Cree

Doubleday Jan. 2023. 272p. ISBN 9780385548694. $28. HORROR
DEBUT Indigenous author Johns’s debut features a young Cree woman who can manifest dream objects in the real world. As Mackenzie’s dreams begin to bleed into reality, she continues to be affected by her sister’s untimely death at her family’s lakefront campsite. Plagued by her dreams and questions about what really happened at the lake that night, Mackenzie returns to her family in her rural Alberta hometown, where they welcome her back, but her dreams only get more dangerous. While this fits in a horror collection, it is also a story about grief and family and the lingering effects of the infringement of industrialism on native lands. At its heart are the strong familial bonds between its predominantly Cree cast of characters as the story is put in the context of the Cree experience, with aspects of their history, culture, and lore present throughout.
VERDICT Despite some of the genuinely eerie imagery and horror elements, when the book ends, what readers will remember most are the moments these characters shared together, playing cards and talking late into the night.
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