Release Date: 1st April 2021
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
From the author of the YA-crossover hit The Marrow Thieves, a propulsive, stunning and sensuous novel inspired by the traditional Métis story of the Rogarou – a werewolf-like creature that haunts the roads and woods of Métis communities. A messed-up, grown-up, Little Red Riding Hood.
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 terrible, hungover 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 named Eugene Wolff. 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 Victor is. The same face, the same eyes, the same hands. But his hair is short and he’s wearing a suit and he doesn’t recognize her at all. No, he insists, she’s the one suffering a delusion: he’s the Reverend Wolff and his only mission is to bring his people to Jesus. Except that, as Joan soon discovers, that’s not all the enigmatic Wolff is doing.
With only the help of Ajean, a foul-mouthed euchre shark with knowledge of the old ways, and her odd, Johnny-Cash-loving, 12-year-old nephew Zeus, Joan has to find a way to remind the Reverend Wolff of who he really is. If he really is Victor. Her life, and the life of everyone she loves, depends upon it.
Empire of Wild is one of those books that you read the premise of and are immediately desperate to know more. The story follows Joan, a woman struggling with the disappearance of her husband Victor. When she stumbles across a revival tent one more she heads inside to find her husband is the preacher. When she approaches him she discovers he does not recognise her at all. With some help from her nephew Zeus and Ajean – a woman in the community with knowledge of the old ways, she must fight to rescue Victor and remind him of who he really is.
Empire of Wild is an incredibly compelling read. I loved the slightly sinister atmosphere of the story and the tale of the Rogarou. Dimaline has gorgeous prose and the story really sucks you into this brilliant book. The story really focuses on issues of colonialism and identity and I loved the way Dimaline weaved these topics into the supernatural storyline.
Dimlaine creates really clever characters in this book and in particular, I loved Ajean and Zeus. Ajean is the wise lady who’s seen it all, and she’s a great side character. Similarly, Joan’s nephew Zeus, who is determined to come along and help rescue Victor. Think horror tale was an incredibly engrossing read and one that has definitely stuck with me. If you’re looking for a unique and compelling suspense story, Empire of Wild is one you need to add to your wishlist.