139. The Horseman's Graves

The Horseman's Graves by Jaqueline Baker

Pages: 432
Finished: Aug. 10, 2008
First Published: 2007
Genre: Canadian literature, historical fiction
Rating: 5/5

Reason for Reading: Review Copy sent to me by Harper Collins Canada. Qualifies for the Canadian Challenge.

First sentence:

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!


  1. Ohhhhhh, this sounds great! Unfortunately, I can't get it here. :( I think I can get it through "sellers" on AOL, though. This is the only thing I don't like about the Canadian Book Challenge - reading about great books that are not easily accessible.

  2. I've never heard of Jaqueline Baker, but this book sounds interesting, and also perhaps a bit tough to get through. I'll have to give it a try, although I have a long list already! Nice review.

  3. Oh, that's a shame joy. Sometimes Canadian books just don't get the international publicity they deserve. You could probably get a used copy from amazon, too.

    bobbi Thank you kindly.

    charley This is Jacqueline Baker's first novel, probably why you've never heard of her. Though, she has previously published a volume of short stories. I read she's in the midst of writing her next novel too.

    I didn't find it a tough read at all! In fact, it was one of those that I just couldn't put down and kept me up way too late a couple nights.

  4. Sounds fabulous!! Sometimes the best books are the ones that are so difficult to describe (at least I like those!). I'll be in Toronto in a week so I'll have to keep my eye open for it. :)

  5. I really enjoyed this book as well. I gave it a 4/5.

  6. This one is on my TBR, as I read her short story collection last year for the Challenge and loved it. Maybe I'll move this one up this list a little, since you appear to have really liked it!

  7. Hello all,
    Hope you don't mind my elbowing in here, but just wanted to thank Nicola for her generous review (and for not giving away any plot spoilers!). Glad you all enjoyed the book (and the stories too, Melanie). It's great to hear comments from people who still love to read.

  8. This is one great book!I am linking this review with mine!

    Hope thats ok with you.

    To reach my review, click on my name!

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