A tricky tale

(Photo by Dawn Gibson/SAIT)

(Photo by Dawn Gibson/SAIT)

Eden Robinson’s new novel, Son of a Trickster, is a dark tale of magic that manages to capture the awkwardness of young adulthood in a vulnerable community. 

Robinson is a member of the Haisla First Nation and her story is set in the town of Kitimat, B.C., where she lives. Son of a Trickster deals with Aboriginal characters and never shies away from the world that shapes them.

“I’ve always loved trickster stories,” said Robinson.

Robinson’s main character is Jared, the illegitimate son of Weegit, the raven, or trickster spirit in Haisla mythology, and the story focuses on Jared’s home life and the nature of growing up. 

It is at the crossroads of drug-induced hallucinations, magical power and teenagers masking their emotions that Jared starts to discover his mythical heritage. 

The issues Son of a Trickster tackles are complex and intergenerational. From families that discard each other quickly and totally, to teenage drug use and sexual adventures, it is not an easy read. But, it is a book that demands attention when started.

Make no mistake, the characters in this novel are broken people, from their interpersonal relationships, to their communication with the magic that bubbles underneath the surface of the town of Kitimat. 

“I’m calling it a screwball gothic; it’s pretty grim,” said Robinson.

Robinson describes her inner child as a Goth, and that inner child influences the world of her characters. 

Comparing Son of a Trickster to other magical adolescent books, such as the Harry Potter series, is like comparing apples to moose meat. They are fundamentally different items. 

“It was a lot of fun to play with it,” said Robinson about intertwining Haisla traditional narrative and a real world setting. 

There is nothing quite analogous in Western culture to Weegit, and Robinson doesn’t offer much explanation for how he operates in the book. It’s part of the mystery that Jared needs to solve.

“He’s not a malevolent force. In our way, he taught you about our social norms and our rules by breaking all the rules.”

Weegit is not the only mythological character in the novel, however, and many of the forces at work in Jared’s world are much more sinister in nature. 

Son of a Trickster is the first of a three part series Robinson is writing. She is currently editing the second book.

“It was originally one big clump of material and when I hit 450 [pages], I realized I hadn’t gotten to the main point of the book.” 

Robinson decided then that she needed to break up the narrative.

“It was a more manageable chunk for my poor memory.”

WordFest will be hosting a reading by Robinson on Monday, Feb. 13, at 7 p.m. in the John Dutton Theatre at the Calgary Public Library. Tickets are on sale for $20. 

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