An intriguing supernatural tale in which a young man uncovers a hidden truth about his heritage.
At the start of Weatherall’s tense and atmospheric debut, the first in a projected series, the Magister family—17-year-old Joe; his mother, Madeline; and his loutish, alcoholic stepfather, Will—are driving through a snowstorm in Ontario’s remote Nahanni Valley when they accidentally hit a wolf on the road. The year is 1960, long before GPS or cellphones, and Joe’s stepfather drives off from the impact without a second thought. Joe, however, agonizes at the thought of the wounded animal out there in the dark. He slips away from home late that night intent on finding the wolf—and finding in the process much more than he expected. When he finally stumbles back home, he’s changed—immune to cold, tireless, and preternaturally perceptive. In subsequent days, he encounters a mysterious woman named Tereene who unfolds to him not only his true nature, but also the supernatural underpinnings of reality itself, in which, she explains, souls get stronger as they age and feed on emotions, eventually becoming powerful, angel-like beings, but even so, as his own personal transformation continues, Joe wonders if he’s given his soul to the devil. Weatherall manipulates the many moving parts of this new cosmology with skill and economy. His simply evil characters tend to feel a bit pat, and Joe’s journey from innocent youth to otherworldly warrior is one readers of horror fantasy have seen many times before. But the tale is told with vigor and conviction nonetheless. The novel’s spiritual world—where traditional notions of good and evil are richly confused and complicated—is one the reader must navigate right alongside Joe.
A promising first installment in a strange blend of theological horror.