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Digital Subscriptions > Quill & Quire > July/August 2018 > Cast adrift

Cast adrift

Eden Robinson’s new novel has many great set pieces but too much excess baggage

FICTION

Trickster Drift

Eden Robinson

Knopf Canada

THE NEW NOVEL by B.C. author Eden Robinson is the second in a planned trilogy and the follow-up to Son of a Trickster, which landed on last year’s Scotiabank Giller Prize shortlist.

Son of a Trickster was an odd mash-up of YA tropes (i.e., weird kid with a messed-up life finds out he’s got magical powers and that his world is not quite what it seems), Indigenous myths, and vintage Robinsonian skid-lit. It told the story of Jared, a smart but troubled teen living in small-town B.C. with his single mom, who happens to be both a powerful spell-caster and a very angry alcoholic. His father is Wee’git, a nasty trickster spirit who has reportedly fathered more than 500 kids.

That book’s essentially realistic depiction of Jared’s difficult home life and struggles to stay afloat and sane did not always mesh well with the sudden forays into more supernatural territory. Both aspects of the novel were engaging, but the pacing was wildly uneven, as was the tone: just as we got used to the horrors and weirdness of, say, a brutal attack by a group of vengeful, man-eating river otters, the story would veer back into something that felt like YA for grown-ups, complete with dialogue that would’ve been at home in a quirky coming-of-age film.

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