Cherie Dimaline’s novels always make me think about stories and adventure—the adventure in stories, if you will. The Marrow Thieves—her first book and one of my first reviews for bookclique—created a world where stories were blood and marrow, and the adventure involved retrieving and sustaining the power found in the bones of the Indigenous characters in the novel.
VenCo, Dimaline’s most recent book, is an adventure, too, and I couldn’t put it down. This time, we accompany a young woman named Lucky, who discovers she’s a part of a coven of witches who must come together to…well, save the world from all the harms caused by patriarchy (because, as Dimaline notes in her acknowledgements, “it’s always a good day to hex the patriarchy.”) But she needs to find the final witch to complete the group of seven, and it’s not easy, especially since Lucky is in fact quite unlucky, and is also caretaker of her magnificent but immense handful of a grandmother, Stella. The novel sees her meeting, learning from, and bonding with a collection of witches and others to find, first, a silver spoon belonging to the final witch, and finally the witch herself.
I loved this story from beginning to end (the end being a beginning in itself). Lucky is an imperfect, endearing, whipsmart protagonist, and all of the supporting characters—magical or not—have their own captivating stories and personalities that made me want to be a part of their circle. Even the antagonist—a despicable, misogynistic witch hunter named Christos—is alluring in his own way.
And the adventure! Lucky finds herself traveling through past and present, casting spells, and taking the most surprising of road trips from Ontario to Louisiana. She must contend with external elements like Christos and disappearing grandmothers, but it’s the inner adventure she embarks upon that really wins over readers. It’s impossible not to root for this young woman as she discovers the power inside of her—one that is passed down from her ancestors and that rises up at her own fierce calling.