Empire of Wild

Empire of Wild

Book - 2020
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"Deftly written, gripping and informative. Empire of Wild is a rip-roaring read!"--Margaret Atwood, From Instagram

"Empire of Wild is doing everything I love in a contemporary novel and more. It is tough, funny, beautiful, honest and propulsive--all the while telling a story that needs to be told by a person who needs to be telling it."--Tommy Orange, author of There There

A bold and brilliant new indigenous voice in contemporary literature makes her American debut with this kinetic, imaginative, and sensuous fable inspired by the traditional Canadian Métis legend of the Rogarou--a werewolf-like creature that haunts the roads and woods of native people's communities.

Joan has been searching for her missing husband, Victor, for nearly a year--ever since that terrible night they'd had their first serious argument hours before he mysteriously vanished. Her Métis family has lived in their tightly knit rural community for generations, but no one keeps the old ways . . . until they have to. That moment has arrived for Joan.

One morning, grieving and severely hungover, Joan hears a shocking sound coming from inside a revival tent in a gritty Walmart parking lot. It is the unmistakable voice of Victor. Drawn inside, she sees him. He has the same face, the same eyes, the same hands, though his hair is much shorter and he's wearing a suit. But he doesn't seem to recognize Joan at all. He insists his name is Eugene Wolff, and that he is a reverend whose mission is to spread the word of Jesus and grow His flock. Yet Joan suspects there is something dark and terrifying within this charismatic preacher who professes to be a man of God . . . something old and very dangerous.

Joan turns to Ajean, an elderly foul-mouthed card shark who is one of the few among her community steeped in the traditions of her people and knowledgeable about their ancient enemies. With the help of the old Métis and her peculiar Johnny-Cash-loving, twelve-year-old nephew Zeus, Joan must find a way to uncover the truth and remind Reverend Wolff who he really is . . . if he really is. Her life, and those of everyone she loves, depends upon it.

Publisher: New York, NY : William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, [2020]
Edition: First U.S. edition.
Copyright Date: ©2019
ISBN: 9780062975942
Branch Call Number: DIMALINE
Characteristics: 300 pages ; 21 cm


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moren1as Apr 06, 2021

Dimaline’s Métis people confront a brand of colonialism that makes use of ancient magic and traditions to get what it wants. But her Métis have powers of their own, especially potent when practiced by community aunties and grannies. We root for the protagonist Joan and her relations, and the story moves fast and fun. Dimaline is a skilled storyteller and gives us just enough detail about each character to keep us interested without straying too far from the action in the foreground. At times the writing feels more suited for a young adult audience, though the questions the book raises and the actions of its characters are appropriate for anyone interested in exploring ideas about community and love in the face of malevolent and confusing forces imposed from beyond.

ArapahoeJordan Mar 10, 2021

Definitely a fun read! I enjoyed the mystery of the book combined with the Native American supernatural. This book has a lot of twists and turns balanced out by some humorous characters who will bring a smile to your face.

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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