Book Buzz Episode 21 – Subdivision & Empire of Wild

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Air date: Oct. 29, 2023

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Empire of Wild

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Hi, this is Jessica Russell. I’m the assistant director of collection services at Sno-Isle Libraries. And welcome to Book Buzz.

Today's reading recommendations might just give you the creeps, just in time for spooky season.

First, we’re going to hear from Madeline, librarian at the Marysville Library, for a novel (pun intended!) take on horror and mythology. Take it away, Madeline.


If you are interested in cults, traditional Indigenous knowledge and folklore, or a fan of “The Walking Dead” or author T. Kingfisher, this book is for you.

“Empire of Wild” by Cherie Dimaline is a fast-paced eco horror about a Rougarou, or werewolf, terrorizing a Cree Metis community.

A year after her new husband Victor goes missing, Joan wakes up in her car to the sounds of a religious revival. She wanders into the tent and finds a crowd watching her lost husband spread the word of Jesus in the pulpit. This bible-thumping charismatic preacher doesn’t recognize Joan, and his followers insist the Reverend Wolf has travelled with the congregation for years. But Joan knows this man is Victor, and she won’t give up on bringing her husband home. Joan teams up with firecracker elder Ajean and her goofball nephew Zeus on a creepy adventure to outwit the supernatural and corporate entities suppressing her people and holding Victor captive.

I found it interesting to read how the villains in this book use Christian evangelism and traditional Cree Metis werewolves to suppress Native resistance, and our protagonists fight them on the supernatural plane to protect community members and fight ecological destruction.

This plot was so exciting and these characters were so spunky and loveable, and they made "Empire of Wild” just impossible to put down!


Thanks, Madeline! I hear the ending is heart wrenching and may divide readers. You’ve been warned, but that’s not going to stop me from adding this to my to-be-read list.

Let’s keep these spooky recommendations going! Next we’ll hear from Emily, library associate at the Marysville Library for an uncanny enigmatic tale. Go ahead, Emily.


“Subdivision” by J. Robert Lennon is a surreal novella for fans of Jeff VanderMeer, Kafka, and “Alice in Wonderland.”

In this strange tale, the boundaries of reality blur like a fever dream as our narrator navigates a shape-shifting suburb, its peculiar inhabitants, and moments of dark humor, all of which is a puzzle box housing a deeper narrative about trauma.

An unnamed woman arrives at a guesthouse in an unnamed city. With a hand-drawn map and fragments of memories, our narrator embarks on a quest for a job, an apartment, and a fresh start. Her sole companion is Cylvia, an unusually assertive digital assistant who guides her through a world that’s both eerily strange and ominously familiar.

Together they encounter: a house made of time-warping “probability wells,” a church with stained-glass windows depicting scenes that might be from her own past, a little boy who sometimes acts like she’s his mother, and a menacing creature known only as “The Bakemono.”

Despite all this, our narrator strives to remain positive because she’s determined to find her place here, even as she feels more and more lost. But wherever and whatever the Subdivision is, it’s not a place anyone is meant to stay in for long.

That’s a big part of why I loved this book – Lennon gives us just enough breadcrumbs to get us wondering whether this is all a dream, a metaphor, some kind of afterlife, or something even stranger.


Thanks, Emily! I’m definitely getting Black Mirror vibes and I’m intrigued to find out what happens to this mysterious woman.

Our recommendations this week are: “Empire of Wild” by Cherie Dimaline and “Subdivision” by J. Robert Lennon.

Join us next time, when we’ll explore more great reading recommendations – interesting books you can find at your favorite local bookstore or at your local library.

Until then, I’m Jessica Russell from Sno-Isle Libraries.

Thanks for joining us for Book Buzz on KSER.

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