The Horseman's Graves by Jaqueline Baker
Finished: Aug. 10, 2008
First Published: 2007
Genre: Canadian literature, historical fiction
Reason for Reading: Review Copy sent to me by Harper Collins Canada. Qualifies for the Canadian Challenge.
They had always been haunted, those hills.
Comments: This is a story that takes place in Southern Saskatchewan approximately in the 1920s. A small rural town with a Catholic church as its centre and German immigrants as its inhabitants. The people are poor, the town is isolated and the citizens live a life of Christianity mixed with old-country superstitions. This tale of a town focuses mainly on two families, both outcasts from the others for very different reasons. The narrative switches focus from main character to main character propelling the story along quickly. Ultimately this is a tale of loneliness, superstition, coming of age, murder and love.
This is a difficult book to summarize plot-wise as the plot unravels layer by layer and there is no way to talk about it without giving away spoilers. My opinion, on the other hand, is easy to summarize. I absolutely loved it! One of the best books, I've read this year. The story and the characters are haunting, the plot is many layered but it is the characterization that propels the story along. Nothing can compare to living on the desolate prairies in the early 1900s and to see how the early settlers, especially the women, managed and survived, though not always happily, makes for a riveting read. There are always eccentric characters found in this type of setting and many abound in this book. Baker's characters are full of life and all of them, nice and nasty alike, are developed to a point where they are real people with actions one can understand and showing feelings with which one can sympathize. These characters will haunt me for a very long time. This is one I plan on reading again someday and I greatly look forward to reading her next book. Highly recommended!