Empire of Wild

Morrow. Jul. 2020. 320p. ISBN 9780062975942. $27.99. F
Joan, a Métis woman living in rural Ontario, has been looking for her missing husband, Victor, for 11 months. While her extended family wants her to acknowledge that Victor likely is either dead or has left her, Joan’s stubbornness is justified when she sees someone who appears to be Victor, acting as a preacher in a tent revival meeting in a Walmart parking lot. Now going by the name Reverend Wolff, Victor does not seem to remember who he is or to recognize Joan, but she suspects he is somehow under the control of the sinister Mr. Heiser or possibly possessed by a Rogarou, a mythical half-man, half-wolf creature. With the help of her 12-year-old cousin, Zeus, and some medicine provided by community elder Ajean, Joan sets out to rescue Victor before it’s too late.
VERDICT This new work from Canadian Métis writer Dimaline, celebrated for her YA novel The Marrow Thieves, recalls Neil Gaiman’s American Gods in its grittiness and humor as well as its depiction of gods and legendary creatures interfering in the lives of contemporary humans. Despite Joan’s tendency to smoke and drink too much and make foolish choices, her dogged determination to reclaim Victor and her belief in their love make her someone to root for. [See Prepub Alert, 1/15/20.]
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