Amanda Leduc's brilliant new novel, woven with fairy tales of her own devising and replete with both catastrophe and magic, is a vision of what happens when we ignore the natural world and the darker parts of our own natures.
Heather is sleeping peacefully after the birth of her twin daughters when the sound of the world ending jolts her awake. Stumbling outside with her babies and her new husband, Brendan, she finds that their city has been destroyed by falling meteors and that her little family are among only a few who survived.
But the mountain that looms over the city is still green--somehow it has been spared the destruction that has brought humanity to the brink of extinction. Heather is one of the few who know the mountain, a place city-dwellers have always been forbidden to go. Her dad took her up the mountain when she was a child on a misguided quest to heal her legs, damaged at birth. The tragedy that resulted has shaped her life, bringing her both great sorrow and an undying connection to the deep magic of the mountain, made real by the beings she and her dad encountered that day: Estajfan, a centaur born of sorrow and of an ancient, impossible love, and his two siblings, marooned between the magical and the human world. Even as those in the city around her--led by Tasha, a charismatic doctor who fled to the city from the coast with her wife and other refugees--struggle to keep everyone alive, Heather constantly looks to the mountain, drawn by love, by fear, by the desire for rescue. She is torn in two by her awareness of what unleashed the meteor shower and what is coming for the few survivors, once the green and living earth makes a final reckoning of the usefulness of human life and finds it wanting.
At times devastating, but ultimately redemptive, Amanda Leduc's fable for our uncertain times reminds us that the most important things in life aren't things at all, but rather the people we want by our side at the end of the world.
AMANDA LEDUC's essays and stories have appeared in publications across Canada, the US and the UK. She is the author of the non-fiction book Disfigured: On Fairy Tales, Disability, and Making Space (Coach House Books, 2020) and the novel The Miracles of Ordinary Men (2013, ECW Press). She has cerebral palsy and lives in Hamilton, Ontario, where she works as the Communications Coordinator for the Festival of Literary Diversity (FOLD), Canada's first festival for diverse authors and stories.
“Stunning. . . . Stories are rarely as powerful or as skilfully crafted as The Centaur’s Wife. The novel is as grand a book as you are likely to read this year, a story of impossibilities delivered with a calm, steady confidence. The reader knows from the opening lines they are in the hands of a master storyteller; Leduc never lets them down.” —Quill & Quire (starred review)
“Amanda Leduc has created an exquisite magical world, perfectly rendered, for her dark and wonderful story about the dream life of outsiders and the disabled. And through it, she has scattered her own collection of fairy tales that rival Grimm and Anderson in their provocative beauty.” —Heather O’Neill, author of The Lonely Hearts Hotel and Lullabies for Little Criminals
“Mythological mayhem and the chaos of our times converge in this delicately told tale. Imaginative at every turn, author Amanda Leduc explores the supernatural and superhuman paths we take toward the mirage of family, identity and belonging.” —Catherine Hernandez, award-winning author of Scarborough and Crosshairs
“[The Centaur’s Wife] looks at the fairy tale tradition, rips it apart and audaciously reassembles it. . . . [T]hough it enters the realm of the mysterious and inexplicable, it is anchored to a persuasive naturalism in chronicling the drama of a small group of people fighting for survival in the wake of planetary disaster. . . . [R]eaders will be hooked immediately.” —Calgary Herald