I have a brother who lays alone in a carriage, and a father who always returns covered in blood.
Toronto’s BookThug has published this unusual volume, a blend of found art and prose poetry and horror story.
Title: The Hunt
Author: Jason Dickson
Author Jason Dickson has collected several old postcards and written, well, postcard-sized chapters of a story involving a family moving across Canada through ghost towns and derelict villages. The father seeks the “man who is also a wolf” that killed his wife, and becomes a wolf in the process. The children are abandoned awhile after one becomes injured.
Most of the old postcards were unused, but some had messages and addresses. Dickson wrote over the existing text, making the book, which concerns, in part, ghost echoes of the past, a kind of palimpsest.
Dickson writes well:
When the children look through the window they see a house where lanterns move between rooms and the windows open and close like a pupil.
The daughter sits in the cellar corner and watches closely. Out in the filed, her brother’s hand catches in a metal trap.
I wake into the belly of a bird, with skin like branches….
I felt the book needed something more. Either the exploration of character (the daughter’s, for example) needed to go deeper, or the plot should have become even creepier.
Originality: 6/6 This cross-country ghost story written on old postcards focuses on a man who becomes a wolf while pursuing his wife’s killer. Dickson gets points for originality. Even categorizing this work by genre becomes problematic. Is it a horror novella? A collection of prose poems? A work of art (it first appeared in a gallery)?
Story: 4/6 I first read The Hunt as several possible takes on a story, especially since some of the better chapters feature new perspectives, and the book overall has a fabulous (in the literal sense) quality. The author assures me that he intended there to be a specific story, and that “all the clues are there.” Either way, this recalls some old legend or campfire tale, twice-told in variations.
Characterization: 4/6. The characters have been painted with fairly broad strokes. They’re believable, but I’d hoped to learn more, especially about the daughter.
Emotional Response: 4/6. The book creates a feeling of mystery, and the horror that might lurk in old places. Many readers, I suspect, will find it baffling as often as they find it moving.
Editing: 5/6. I refer you to both the “High” and “Low” Points.
Overall score: 4/6
In total, The Hunt receives 32 out of 42