Empire of Wild

Empire of Wild

eBook - 2019
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"Wildly entertaining and profound and essential." —Tommy Orange, The New York Times

Broken-hearted Joan has been searching for her husband, Victor, for almost a year—ever since he went missing on the night they had their first serious argument. One hung-over morning in a Walmart parking lot in a little town near Georgian Bay, she is drawn to a revival tent where the local Métis have been flocking to hear a charismatic preacher. By the time she staggers into the tent the service is over, but as she is about to leave, she hears an unmistakable voice.
She turns, and there is Victor. Only he insists he is not Victor, but the Reverend Eugene Wolff, on a mission to bring his people to Jesus. And he doesn't seem to be faking: there isn't even a flicker of recognition in his eyes.
With only two allies—her odd, Johnny-Cash-loving, 12-year-old nephew Zeus, and Ajean, a foul-mouthed euchre shark with deep knowledge of the old ways—Joan sets out to remind the Reverend Wolff of who he really is. If he really is Victor, his life, and the life of everyone she loves, depends upon her success.
Inspired by the traditional Métis story of the Rogarou—a werewolf-like creature that haunts the roads and woods of Métis communities—Cherie Dimaline has created a propulsive, stunning and sensuous novel.
Publisher: Random House of Canada


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flightofabluebird Dec 22, 2020

Great read! I really enjoyed the characters, especially sweet little Zeus. Reading about Victor in the woods was so unsettling, but there was such a good balance of humor with Ajean and a great mystery unfolding all around I couldn't put the book down; then, when it was finished I was sad there wasn't more!

SPL_Shauna Oct 13, 2020

As the nights chill and the leaves change, the temptation to curl up in the evening with a cup of tea and a candle to read by is impossible to resist. An evening in during a pandemic is a lot more alluring when it's spent with a beautifully written, dark mystery shot through with the figure of rogarou, a Michif word for a creature reminiscent of a werewolf that features in the stories of the Métis.

Joan is a 30-something woman living in a small Métis community called Arcand on the shores of Georgian Bay. She hails from a loving, raucous family and has lived an adventurous life, finding a partner along the way who loves and feeds her free spirit. They marry and move to Arcand, and things are good until he suggests she sell some of the land her father left her when he passed away. They have their first real argument and he walks out. He vanishes without a trace. Joan is left searching for her husband, certain he is still alive despite the community's insisting she bury an empty casket for closure. Almost a year later, the family matriarch's body is found mutilated on the path between her trailer and the family home. Elders and others begin whispering that rogarou is haunting the woods.

From here, the story kicks into high gear, as Joan works with Elders and her nephew to untangle the web concealing what haunts the woods and what happened to her husband. Dimaline's (The Marrow Thieves) lyrical writing brings a profound sense of place and a deeply creepy atmosphere, ideal for readers who enjoy a strong plot alongside an immersive setting. She deftly ties the story to the ongoing effects of resource extraction and colonialism on Indigenous communities in Northern Ontario. If this all sounds very heavy, don't worry: Joan's family shares a wry, witty gallows humour offering readers some good laughs every couple pages.

Some reviewers have placed Empire of Wild as a YA book, but this does the book and all its potential readers a disservice. *Empire of Wild* is a dark, funny, sometimes-sexy, fast-paced, decolonial gem of a mystery perfect for crisp October nights.

JCLEmmaF Jun 22, 2020

Deeply thoughtful. Slightly horrific fable-like book about an indigenous woman searching for her missing husband with her 12 year old nephew sidekick... and finding him as a Christian-like preacher, essentially an unknowing pawn to soften indigenous communities for mining. Tough, beautiful, thought provoking book about not only indigenous myth, but also religious hypocrisy, strong and sensuous femininity, and community.

Mar 25, 2020

Empire of Wild starts with history, the history of the Métis town of Arcand, and the history of a thing living on the land, a thing that the people should fear as it is there, amongst them, always, already at the hunt. In this community, this thing is called Rogarou. I’m not gonna say anymore as I don’t wanna spoil it, however, EVERYONE MUST READ IT!!!! I ABSOLUTELY MEAN IT!!!! One book that is pretty similar to this one is The Burning Stone by Jack Whyte. It is so easy to follow through and is great to learn more about the Métis culture! I had a great time learning about it!

Feb 23, 2020

I read baldma’s comment below and my thoughts are exactly the opposite. I read the marrow thieves and absolutely loved it. It was engrossing and extremely moving. I was a bit bored with empire of the wild and was glad when it finished. Having said that Cherie is a fantastic rider and well worth the read. Her books would be great for a book club. They require discussion and reflections.

debwalker Sep 21, 2019

Georgian Bay. When your missing husband claims to be someone else.

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