Bad Cree by Jessica Johns
March 29, 2023 5:56 AM - Subscribe

In this gripping, horror-laced debut, a young Cree woman’s dreams lead her on a perilous journey of self-discovery that ultimately forces her to confront the toll of a legacy of violence on her family, her community and the land they call home.

“A mystery and a horror story about grief, but one with defiant hope in its beating heart.” —Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts and The Pallbearers Club

When Mackenzie wakes up with a severed crow’s head in her hands, she panics. Only moments earlier she had been fending off masses of birds in a snow-covered forest. In bed, when she blinks, the head disappears.

Night after night, Mackenzie’s dreams return her to a memory from before her sister Sabrina’s untimely death: a weekend at the family’s lakefront campsite, long obscured by a fog of guilt. But when the waking world starts closing in, too—a murder of crows stalks her every move around the city, she wakes up from a dream of drowning throwing up water, and gets threatening text messages from someone claiming to be Sabrina—Mackenzie knows this is more than she can handle alone.

Traveling north to her rural hometown in Alberta, she finds her family still steeped in the same grief that she ran away to Vancouver to escape. They welcome her back, but their shaky reunion only seems to intensify her dreams—and make them more dangerous.

What really happened that night at the lake, and what did it have to do with Sabrina’s death? Only a bad Cree would put their family at risk, but what if whatever has been calling Mackenzie home was already inside?

[description from publisher's website]
posted by quatsch (4 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Just finished this and really enjoyed it! Dreams and family are the backbone here, but more than anything I appreciated the value-neutrality about things that might be straightforwardly Bad or Good in another book. The Bad Place is also a place that exists in the world as it did before the Bad Shit happened, it's not just a metaphor for trauma, people who should know better also do dumb but understandable shit, etc., and not in a way that strained credulity for this reader.
posted by quatsch at 6:27 AM on March 29

Just finished this! Agree with your comments. The refusal to designate Good or Bad extends to animals and actions, as well. It’s refreshing, too, to read a book that centers around female relationships and female familial legacy - both the gifts of Self and family bonds, as well as the things in us we give up, just to get by, and the unintended consequences of those choices. There’s also an avoidance of ~drama~ (in the pejorative sense) between the main characters, which was very refreshing — just the unavoidable frustrations that arise from a group of people who rely on each other, and sometimes fail through the most understandable intentions.

The mystery unfolds nicely, too. Good pace. The spooky parts have a fair amount of “bloody horror” in it, for those who want to avoid that.
posted by Silvery Fish at 2:12 PM on March 30

Question about this book: I understand that it involves dreams. I'm usually not a big fan of lengthy dream sequences in fiction. Is this book very full of dreams and long descriptions of dreams?

I know that sounds like a petty question, but my eyes glaze over in most horror and fantasy books when characters are routinely dreaming, waking up sweating, etc. I know there are authors who handle this much better than others. Anyone want to chime in on the amount of and quality of the dream sequences this book contains?

I'm leaning towards reading it as it sounds interesting and it's a subject I haven't read about.
posted by SoberHighland at 4:15 PM on March 30

The dream sequences here are more akin to stepping into non-ordinary reality, in shamanic parlance. The dreams are kind of the backbone of the book, but they’re not extraneous to the core collective real-life problem that needs to be solved in the novel. Hope that helps.
posted by Silvery Fish at 12:44 PM on March 31

« Older Quantum Leap (2022): Timey-wim...   |  The Big Door Prize: The Big Do... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments