Fiction

#927 A runecaster’s apprenticeship

Runecaster Book 1: The Stone of Sorrow by Brooke Carter Victoria: Orca Book Publishers $14.95 /  9781459824393 Reviewed by Myshara Herbert-McMyn * The Stone of Sorrow concerns magic, myth, and adventure. Each page I turned of this YA (young adult) novel meant more mystery and surprise. I wasn’t sure how much Icelandic and Norse mythology…
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#926 Crisis on the front line

The Last High by Daniel Kalla Toronto: Simon & Schuster Canada, 2020 $22.00 / 9781501196980 Reviewed by Benjamin Matthews * Daniel Kalla’s The Last High begins with a murder, or rather a bunch of murders. We get a firsthand view of the murders through the eyes of Alexa, a 16-year-old girl who watches in bliss…
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#924 Fractured angles & pools of time

A Song from Faraway by Deni Ellis Béchard Fredericton: Goose Lane, 2020 $22.95 / 9781773101545 Reviewed by Theo Dombrowski * Novel? Collection of short stories? A Song from Faraway is, in a conventional sense, neither of these. Or both. And this isn’t the only lack of convention in Deni Ellis Béchard’s new book. Pieced together…
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#920 Rogue reverberating

We Two Alone by Jack Wang Toronto: Anansi, 2020 $19.95 / 9781487007461 Reviewed by William New * Jack Wang is a welcome new voice in Canadian letters. I say ‘new,’ because We Two Alone is his first book of stories; but in fact he has been an active writer for several years. Since 2015 he…
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#910 Handbook of fear & phantoms

Campfire Stories from Coast to Coast by Barbara Smith Victoria: Heritage House, 2020 $19.95 / 9781772033113 Reviewed by Caileigh Broatch * Barbara Smith has been telling ghost stories since 1993, since her first book, Ghost Stories of Alberta. With nearly forty books now under her belt, Campfire Stories from Coast to Coast is a natural…
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#907 An all-encompassing loss

The Unbroken Hearts Club by Brooke Carter Victoria: Orca Books, 2019 $9.95 /  9781459820616 Reviewed by Zoe McKenna * In The Unbroken Hearts Club, Brooke Carter highlights the healing power of community and art in the face of grief and loss. Brooke Carter is the author of several novels for young adults, including the Runecaster…
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#903 Contemplating Montblanc

Panegyric by Logan Macnair Surrey: Now or Never Publishing, 2020 $19.95 / 9781988098975 Reviewed by Eryn Holbrook * “Do you know who I am?” asks an unidentified inquirer in the opening lines of Panegyric, the first novel by BC-based writer, Logan Macnair. The question, we soon learn, is addressed to the book’s narrator, Larry Mann: a struggling…
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#902 Demers’ therapeutic thriller

Primary Obsessions by Charles Demers Maderia Park: Douglas and McIntyre, 2020 $18.95 / 9781771622561 Reviewed by Paul Headrick * For authors working in the private detective genre, one of the challenges is to contrive a reason for the protagonist not to go to the police — not when important evidence turns up, not even when…
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#901 Evolving Story

Travellers May Still Return by Michael Kenyon Saskatoon: Thistledown Press, 2019 $20.00 / 9781771871877 Reviewed by William New * Two things to know: (1) Michael Kenyon is a poet as well as a fiction writer, with another eleven remarkable books to his name, and (2) when this new book was in progress it was referred…
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#898 Back to the brideships

The Runaway Bride by Jody Hedlund Grand Rapids, Michigan: Bethany House Publishers, 2020 $15.99 (U.S.) / 9780764232961 Reviewed by Valerie Green * Jody Hedlund’s book The Runaway Bride tells the story of Arabella Lawrence who arrives in Victoria in September 1862 aboard the S.S. Tynemouth. Over the years, I have conducted a great deal of…
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#892 The potency of the mundane

The Certainties by Aislinn Hunter Toronto: Penguin Random House (Knopf Canada), 2020 Reviewed by Theo Dombrowski $29.95 / 9780735276871 * In a much quoted poem, English poet W.H. Auden wrote, “About suffering they were never wrong,/ the old masters…how it takes place/ While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully…
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#891 Dealing with the dark

Here the Dark by David Bergen Windsor, ON: Biblioasis, 2020 $21.99 / 9781771963213 Reviewed by William New * Editor’s note: David Bergen’s Here the Dark is one of 11 books in the Scotiabank Giller Prize 2020 longlist, announced on September 8, 2020. * Subtitled “a novella and stories,” David Bergen’s Here the Dark brings together…
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#889 Mennonite roots and shrubs

All That Belongs by Dora Dueck Winnipeg: Turnstone Press, 2019 $19.00 / 9780888016812 Reviewed by Valerie Green * Dora Dueck’s book All That Belongs published by Turnstone Press in 2019 is set in Alberta and Manitoba. It tells the story of Catherine, a retired archivist who, on her last day of work, found memories from…
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