What would happen if a world-ending blackout occurred, and society was thrown into chaos? This is the premise of Waubgeshig Rice‘s Moon of the Turning Leaves, the sequel to his Moon of the Crusted Snow. Set in Northern Ontario, this unique and haunting post-apocalyptic story follows a group of Anishinaabe people as they search for a new home after surviving in the bush for over a decade.
The story centers around Evan Whitesky, who leads a scouting party on a dangerous mission to find a new home for their community. Accompanied by his daughter Nangohns and five others, they travel through the reserve where their ancestors once lived, the devastated city of Gibson, and other lands now being reclaimed by nature. As they encounter other survivors along the way, they must navigate both the wilderness and those who use violence to fulfill their needs.
One of the strengths of this book is its pacing. While the suspense builds gradually throughout the story, it never feels too slow or drawn-out. The author does an excellent job of balancing action with character development, making you care about each member of Evan’s scouting party and their journey.
The writing is also top-notch. Rice has a talent for vividly describing scenes in detail without ever becoming tedious or boring. You can almost feel yourself there with Evan and his team as they make their trek. The dialogue is also compelling; it feels authentic to each character’s personality and culture, including the use of many Anishnaabemowin words.
Another aspect that sets Moon of the Turning Leaves apart from other dystopian novels is its focus on Indigenous culture. Rice infuses Anishinaabe traditions throughout the story, from hunting methods to spiritual beliefs. It’s refreshing to see Indigenous culture portrayed in such an authentic way while exploring themes that are universal.
Overall, Moon of the Turning Leaves is a well-written, entertaining, and thought-provoking dystopian novel. Rice’s unique perspective as an Indigenous author adds depth to the story and characters. If you’re a fan of post-apocalyptic fiction or want to explore Indigenous literature, this book is definitely worth checking out (in addition to Moon of the Crusted Snow).
Rice will join the Capes and Tights Podcast on April 3, 2024 to discuss his novels and more!