Eden Robinson’s Son of a Trickster, a Funny, Dark Native Fantasy

Son of a Trickster, by Eden Robinson. Knopf Canada, 2017. 336pp, fiction.

If you know Canadian Native writer Eden Robinson, you know that her laugh can take over a room. So it’s no surprise that her novel, Son of a Trickster is one that takes over your mind — in that gooood way.

Jared Martin is a sweet sixteen year old kid who lives with a mother he loves — but whose drama is really hard to deal with. Set primarily on the Haisla Nation in Kitimat Village, British Columbia, the novel takes us into Jared’s world, which is one where his mother nail-guns his stepfather’s arms to the floor when he threatens Jared…but also one where she tears Jared’s room apart when she thinks he’s threatening her.

Jared just wants to go to school, bake pot brownies for his friends, and mainly, hang out with his awesomely weird new girlfriend. But his mother’s hard-partying, erratic moods, and revolving tenants and boyfriends — all resulting in the aforementioned destruction of his own room and violent threats against Jared — make it so that he often finds himself having to crash with folks in his neighborhood for a night, or several weeks — only to come home and find that his mother has disappeared — again.

Add to this his discovery that he, like his mother, has extraordinary powers makes it hard for Jared to focus on the simple stuff, like school. He finds out about his powers when mom comes home and makes up with him, allow him to see all kinds of wonderful supernatural beings, like fireflies that aren’t really fireflies, but aliens with a philosophical bent, living above his girlfriend’s head.

However, there is a dark side to this gift that he shares with his mother, and watching her erratic behavior makes Jared wonder about his own future. Ultimately, Jared is faced with a choice: stay with his mom, who has helped to save him not only from evil stepfathers, but evil supernatural otters as well — but who offers a fairly chaotic existence, or go and live a more peaceful life with Grandma.

In what promises to be a fun, funny and adventurous literary-fantasy and Indiginerd’s dream of a trilogy, Robinson kicks our collective ass with this one, and promises to keep doing the same in the next two.

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