Jacqueline Baker’s highly acclaimed short story collection,A Hard Witching and Other Stories, marked the debut of an extraordinary literary talent. Proclaimed by reviewers to be “a rural J.D. Salinger,” Baker received the prestigious Danuta Gleed Award and her collection was listed among Maclean’s Top 10 Books of the Year.
The Horseman’s Graves returns us to the harsh locale of Sand Hills on the Saskatchewan-Alberta border, where Baker unfolds a tale of a small German immigrant community caught between the promise of this new land and the weight of a European past, with its hatred, fear and old-country superstitions. Lathias is a half-breed farmhand, a young loner who becomes the unofficial guardian to the Schoff boy, a golden child until a terrible farm accident scars his face and his mind. Both boys are drawn to Elisabeth, a savagely beautiful girl, whose stepfather, Leo, is the local scapegrace, a man whose cruelty is both a source of amusement and shame to the townspeople. When Elisabeth, watched only by the Schoff boy, falls through the ice into the river, no one foresees how it will be the end—and the beginning—of everything.
A novel so lyrical and hypnotic that it begs to be read aloud,The Horseman’s Graves is a pitch-perfect rendering of small-town immigrant life. Told through the unforgettable narrative voice of a seeall neighbour, it is filled with memorable characters: a blustering, pious priest; a mysterious “witch” faith healer; the town busybody; a fearful young farm wife who is virtually worked to death. An extraordinarily accomplished work, The Horseman’s Graves is a profound testament to our universal search for love and redemption.