Where deep woods cover the Maine border, blending together two countries and two languages, the summer of 1967 is a time of fear. Teenage beauties Sissy Morgan and Zaza Mulligan wander among the vacation cottages in the community of Boundary, attracting the attention of boys and men, before they’re found gruesomely murdered — felled by long-dead woodsman’s bear traps. Andrée, the little girl whose name nobody can pronounce, watches the police investigate, unaware of how profoundly these events will impact her passage into womanhood.
Reminiscent of Scandinavian thrillers by Asa Larsson, Henning Mankell, and others, Boundary was a crossover hit when first published in the French, winning both the Governor General’s Award for literature and the Arthur Ellis Prize for mystery novels. By weaving a tale of unbearable suspense and meticulously evoked atmosphere, Michaud transforms endless forests, haunted people, and primal terror into an irresistibly gripping summer read.
Now read on for a guest post from Andrée about the locations within the novel!
Most of my novels take place in the country, in small communities surrounded by woods, because nature is part of my universe and always becomes a character among other characters.
It’s therefore not a surprise that I chose Boundary Pond, a place where my father used to take me when I was a little girl, to be one of the characters, if not the main character, in Boundary. The last time I went to Bondrée (as we say in my village and the nearby towns) I must have only been eight or nine, but my memories of the lake, of the mountain, and of the fog cascading down it, always remained very clear in my mind.
I admit it’s perfectly possible that I remodeled these memories, as the years went by, to embellish the landscape of Boundary in the same way we embellish a lot of memories from childhood, but what’s important, for me, is that I never forgot the place nor its atmosphere. It’s this atmosphere I tried to create in the novel, accentuated by the presence of the mountain, the lake and the deep forest. On that subject, I have to say there is always water in my books; if not a lake then a brook, a river, a shore, a canal in Venice, to reflect both the dark and the light sides of the story, the feelings of the characters, the fear you sometimes experience when standing in front of what is hiding from you, in front of depths you cannot reach.
The Bondrée I knew was, however, very different from the Boundary of the book. There were only two or three cabins around the lake, and only a few hunters during the Fall. In Summer, the place was given back to nature and looked like, I presume, the Boundary that Pete Landry knew, the trapper who is at the origin of the whole story, even if he’s dead when it starts. I somewhat reimagined the place for the purposes of the book. I stretched the lake a little, added some cottages and a camping site, a shining sun at the summit of Moose trap, the mountain, and I was ready to let Pete Landry’s traps raise from the soil, to let foxes cross Otter and Weasel Trail, and to introduce to this landscape a number of characters who are blissfully unaware that the Summer of ’67, the so-called ‘Summer of Love’, would for them be a season of fear and incomprehensible violence; a season at the end of which they would never be the same again.
It’s what you should expect when you lose a paradise.