Empire of Wild

Empire of Wild is a novel by Cherie Dimaline.

Cherie Dimaline

Broken-hearted Joan has been searching for her husband, Victor, for almost a year — ever since he went missing on the night they had their first serious argument. One terrible, hungover morning in a Walmart parking lot in a little town near Georgian Bay, she is drawn to a revival tent where the local Métis have been flocking to hear a charismatic preacher named Eugene Wolff. By the time she staggers into the tent, the service is over. But as she is about to leave, she hears an unmistakable voice.

She turns, and there Victor is. The same face, the same eyes, the same hands. But his hair is short and he's wearing a suit and he doesn't recognize her at all. No, he insists, she's the one suffering a delusion: he's the Reverend Wolff and his only mission is to bring his people to Jesus. Except that, as Joan soon discovers, that's not all the enigmatic Wolff is doing.

With only the help of Ajean, a foul-mouthed euchre shark with a knowledge of the old ways, and her odd, Johnny-Cash-loving, 12-year-old nephew Zeus, Joan has to find a way to remind the Reverend Wolff of who he really is. If he really is Victor. Her life, and the life of everyone she loves, depends upon it. (Random House Canada)

Cherie Dimaline is a Métis author and editor whose award-winning fiction has been published and anthologized internationally.

In 2017, her novel The Marrow Thieves won the Governor General's Literary Award for Young people's literature — text and the Kirkus Prize for young readers' literature. It is currently being adapted for television.

The Marrow Thieves was defended by Jully Black on Canada Reads 2018.

From the book

He was a dog, a man, a wolf. He was clothed, he was naked in his fur, he wore moccasins to jig. He was whatever made you shiver but he was always there, standing by the road, whistling to the stars so that they pulsed bright in the navy sky, as close and as distant as ancestors.

For girls, he was the creature who kept you off the road or made you walk in packs. The old women never said, "Don't go into town, it is not safe for us there. We go missing. We are hurt." Instead they leaned in and whispered a warning: "I wouldn't go out on the road tonight. Someone saw the rogarou just this Wednesday, leaning against the stop sign, sharpening his claws with the jawbone of a child."

For boys, he was the worst thing you could ever be. "You remember to ask first and follow her lead. You don't want to turn into Rogarou. You'll wake up with blood in your teeth, not knowing and no way to know what you've done."

From Empire of Wild by Cherie Dimaline ©2019. Published by Random House Canada.

Why Cherie Dimaline wrote Empire of Wild

"I remembered that I am here to tell stories. The stories I tell are from the community, my heart and from my family. Empire of Wild was the book that comes after The Marrow Thieves because it is based on a traditional story that my grandmother used to tell me all the time. Writing the book really allowed me to fall in love with the art of story — and forget about the business of story.

The stories I tell are from the community, my heart and from my family.- Cherie Dimaline

"I had so much fun writing Joan in Empire of Wild. One of my earliest experiences with how women and sex are perceived in publishing was when I had just written the first part of my 2013 novel The Girl Who Grew a Galaxy. I initially wrote a female character in that book who was very sex positive. She made her own decisions and she wasn't victimized.

"When I was writing Joan, I decided that I was going to write a real woman. The women that I know, the women that I love, the women who raised me, the woman I hope I am. Women who have the great gift of having autonomy, of having power and being full of passion." 

Read more in her interview with The Next Chapter.

Interviews with Cherie Dimaline

Cherie Dimaline talks to Shelagh Rogers about her novel, Empire of Wild.
Cherie Dimaline, author of The Marrow Thieves, speaks with Metro Morning host Matt Galloway about her novel and what it means to young Indigenous readers to see themselves represented in literature.
Cherie Dimaline on her Young Adult novel about a harrowing future
Tracey Lindberg was joined on stage by Métis writer Katherena Vermette and Métis writer Cherie Dimaline to talk about race and representation on Canada Reads, CBC's annual battle of the books.

Other books by Cherie Dimaline

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?