The April choice for the #BuddyReadsToDieFor book club!
EMPIRE OF WILD – Cherie Dimaline (Released July 28th, 2020)
Here’s the synopsis:
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.
Chandra’s Thoughts: 4 stars
What would you do if your husband disappears one day after an argument and then never returns. Months later you find a revival type tent, go in and lo and behold, it’s your husband!! Only… not. He’s now a reverend with a different name who doesn’t seem to recognize you but you know in your heart it is him. How far do you go to get him back? Are you up to face the rogarou?
I had never actually heard of the rogarou before reading this book and I LOVE LOVE learning about these kinds of things. There’s SO much in this world that we don’t know about so any chance to feed my brain – especially with cultural beliefs, please feed me! This book does an amazing job of giving you these visuals. There’s something about old timey revival tents that are forever creepy and delicious and just gets to me. **shiver** But then add in this animalistic side of the story and the strong women who lead the families (I mean, how do you NOT fall in love with Ajean??) and creepy preachers. Y’all, this story HITS.
I could’ve done without the numerous BJ scenes though. Just sayin’. Also, every time I see the name Victor, I think of that Joey Tribbiani play scene where the girl on stage kept saying “Victor! Victor!” Though I think that’s not exactly the way it went. I could google it but I’m lazy. Sue me 😇 You know what I did google though? The Métis people. You should too. ❤
My Thoughts: 4/5 stars
I’ve had this book waiting for some time on my shelf and I’m glad we picked it for #BuddyReadsToDieFor this month. I truly didn’t know what to expect when starting this book – I really have to get better about reading the synopsis again but I think it helps me go in with zero expectations. I got a little bit of mystery, some paranormal elements, and some great Cajun folklore.
What would you do if your significant other disappeared without a trace? Victor left one night and didn’t come back, but when his wife stumbled into a revival tent she found him alive and well, only it wasn’t really him. He is now a reverend and claims he has no idea who she is and insists she has him mistaken for someone else, but a wife knows her husband. How far would you be willing to go to save your spouse and get them back?
So I realized while reading I had actually heard the legends of the rougarou before, when we visited the Audubon Zoo in NOLA. I remember the little exhibit they had for it and how fascinating I thought it was, because I’m a sucker for any and all folklore. This was one I found myself going down the rabbit hole and researching after finishing up the book and learning more about the rich culture down in the south. Despite there being a couple things here and there that I wasn’t the biggest fan of, I still highly recommend this book and I will definitely be picking up more from the author in the future.