Deep in British Columbia, at the turn of the 20th century, lies Winteridge: a small village perched on an enormous lake made famous by the monster said to haunt its depths.
Twelve-year-old Iris Sparks lives in Winteridge with her brother; her working-class Welsh mother, Llewelyna; and her blue-blooded father from England, a progressive bohemian who has brought his family to Canada for an adventure.
But amid the idyllic, Edwardian setting, there are dangers lurking. A blend of Welsh and Indigenous stories of a predatory lake monster take real shape for young Iris as she begins to unravel the truth behind her mother's dark fairy tales, and watches in horror as her mother increasingly succumbs to seizures.
As the First World War reaches its height, Iris must contend with the demands of a deteriorating mother and the harsh realities of a toxic love triangle. All the while, Iris's mind continues to exert its strange and awesome power, and she and her entire community must find a way to survive at the mercy of otherworldly beasts and a hungry darkness.
DANIA TOMLINSON is an MFA graduate of the University of British Columbia. Dania grew up in the Okanagan, and still lives there with her husband and young daughter. Dania's fiction has won awards and been published in literary magazines, including Room and SubTerrain. Our Animal Hearts is her first novel.
"[A] gem. . . . Ambitious. . . . Written with much lyricism, the narrative proves both riveting and moving." —Toronto Star
"Dania Tomlinson blurs the lines between truth and fairy tale in her evocative debut novel" —Canadian Living
"The assurendness of Tomlinson's prose supports [Our Animal Hearts] sweep and sensibility. [Tomlinson] write with equal confidence about the struggles of the period, the human condition and the natural world." —The Georgia Straight
"Is malevolence an ancient spirit in a lake or simply a weakness deep in the human heart? Our Animal Hearts is a story steeped in the loneliness of a wilderness town, rich in its characters and their flawed struggles to thrive and to love. An atmospheric and gripping debut." —Helen Simonson, internationally bestselling author of Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand and The Summer Before the War
"Dania Tomlinson puts into words everything I have intuited about British Columbia: that a sort of magic rules here. Tomlinson blurs the seams between reality and myth, offering a story about stories—the narratives we inherit and the ones we choose to tell. From this novel's spectral beasts to the wild girl at its core, I found Our Animal Hearts totally entrancing." —Eliza Robertson, author of Demi-Gods
"Our Animal Hearts is a brilliant and exhilarating tour de force. The writing is superb, and Tomlinson is a born storyteller, seamlessly blending local myth and Welsh folklore to weave a novel that never loses sight of the beauty that lurks at the heart of evil." —Wayne Grady, nationally bestselling author of Emancipation Day and Up From Freedom