Monday, August 13, 2018

Off The Shelf: Our Animal Hearts by Dania Tomlinson (Book Review)



Summer ain't over yet - there's still time to grab a great book and head for the beach! If you're a fan of sunny, romantic beach reads, Our Animal Hearts, by Canadian Dania Tomlinson, isn't the book for you. But if you want to be caught up in a fanciful, dark, captivating tale that has you reading through to sundown, this is a perfect choice. It's weird, for sure, but weird is good. Weird is different. Weird is something you haven't read before.




A graduate of the University of British Columbia, Tomlinson grew up in the Okanagan, where she still lives. Our Animal Hearts, her first novel, is set deep in British Columbia at the turn of the 20th century, in the small village of Winteridge. As the story begins, 12-year-old Iris Sparks lives with her brother, Welsh mother, Llewelyna, and English father in an oddly shaped house not far from an enormous lake.

At this impressionable time in her life, Iris is steeped in her mother's dark fairy tales, some brought with her from Wales and some learned from an Indigenous friend. A lake monster is said to haunt the extreme depths of Winteridge's lake, and Iris's days are touched by the dangers she believes lurk around them. In time, tragedy leads her to believe the lake monster is frighteningly real.

The novel also explores historical themes, including the effects of the First World War on the small Canadian community, the treatment of Japanese Canadians and the tensions between various immigrant communities and Indigenous occupants of the areas surrounding the town. There are some romances of sorts, but happily-ever-after isn't a foregone conclusion.

As heroines go, Iris does some pretty questionable (okay, outright wrong) things, yet you can't help but feel for this child, growing up as she does with minimal guidance and support. (Mom seems more attached to her pet peacock than her children.)

Monsters, magic, madness. Beautiful writing and a breathtaking setting. I really liked this novel. 

What about you? Are you looking for sunny beach reads, dark and stormy tales or something in between?

Find Our Animal Hearts online.


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12 comments:

  1. Good weird is my favorite - added to my (huge) Amazon list - thanks!

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    1. You don't say, haha! We are a good case for nature vs. nurture, with nature winning out, because we didn't grow up together but we seem to like everything the same. ;)

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  2. Sounds like an interesting story! I love anything Danielle Steel, Judi Picoult or Sandra brown for beach read.

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    1. Yes, very interesting! Hope you get some good beach time!

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  3. Really artsy! I like a weird tale.

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  4. I must confess, YA novels are still my favourite. :)

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    1. Nothing wrong with that! Reading is reading. And YA novels are great!

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  5. I love that this book is by a Canadian author and is set in Canada. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

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  6. This actually sounds very interesting, I wouldn't mind giving it a read!

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  7. Hmm, I am not much in to magic and monsters, but the setting interests me so I may have to give it a try.
    jan

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  8. Thanks for the introduction to this book,I do enjoy a good story!

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