Tanya Reimer's Cursed on the Prairies was published by Elsewhen Press. The digital edition was published in September 2017 and the paperback in November 2017.
Information about Tanya Reimer:
Born and raised in Saskatchewan, Tanya enjoys using the tranquil prairies as a setting to her not-so-peaceful speculative fiction.
She is married with two children which means among her accomplishments are the necessary magical abilities to find a lost tooth in a park of sand and whisper away monsters from under the bed.
As director of a non-profit Francophone community center, Tanya offers programming and services in French for all ages to ensure the lasting imprint and growth of the Francophone community in which she was raised. What she enjoys the most about her job is teaching social media safety for teens and offering one-on-one technology classes for seniors.
Tanya was fifteen when she wrote her first column. She has a diploma in Journalism/Short Story Writing. Today, she actively submits to various newspapers, writes and publishes the local Francophone newsletter for her community, and maintains a blog at Life’s Like That.
Information about Cursed on the Prairies:
Always go for more
Russ doesn’t want more. He has the perfect life planned. Even though he’s called a dummy most days, he knows he’ll go to college, marry Isabelle, and farm with his father and brothers. Yup, perfect.
All that changes in June 1928, the night his brother is kicked out of the house and Isabelle is snatched by a bunch of men dressed like ghosts.
Russ swore to protect Sacred Land but promises made to his pa when life was great are not so easy to keep after he finds himself plagued by a curse. Who are the men terrorising the Cursed Lands and trying to burn his gal for being a witch? His father thinks they’re acting out to scare them off the land, a hate group perhaps? His brother wonders if they’re wanting a sacred plant that grows in the tunnels. His ma knows of other secrets haunting them... While those things might be true, his ghostly grandpa shows Russ something he can’t ignore; a curse summoned years ago that will suck them all into the earth.
With lingering spirits, a troubled girl shadowing his destiny, dark rituals, a love potion, cursed men plaguing their lands, a prison break that takes him away from home when his wife needs him the most, and the earth itself trying to suck them in, Cursed on the Prairies is a Sacred Land Story that shows that the prairies are a place full of secrets that even a ghost can’t bury.
An emotional journey into an alternate history with paranormal and romantic elements that proves we can’t escape our destinies, Cursed on the Prairies is the third of Tanya’s Sacred Land Stories, the culmination of a trans-generational timeline that started in Legends on the Prairies and continued in Ghosts on the Prairies.
A REVIEW OF TANYA REIMER'S CURSED ON THE PRAIRIES
Before I begin to review this novel, I'll mention that my review mostly concerns the whole series and only partly this novel. Because I have now read all of the novels in this series, I feel compelled to review it as a whole rather than taking merely a look at this novel.
Tanya Reimer's Cursed on the Prairies is the third novel of the Sacred Land Stories. It's an excellent conclusion to the story that began in Legends on the Prairies and continued in Ghosts on the Prairies, because it ends the trans-generational timeline in a satisfying way. Everything that happened in the previous novels has led to the events in this novel and the author delivers a poignant and rewarding ending to her series.
The author brings the past vividly to life with this novel and its predecessors. Her vision of the turmoil, harshness, unkindness and ruggedness of the prairies is striking, because she doesn't shy away from emotional and harsh material, but boldly explores what can happen to people, how their lives can change and how they cope with changes. Each of the novels is a fascinating combination of alternate history, hope, love, loss, death, fate, romance, duty, brutality, hate and secrets. The author uses all of these elements as her tools to add emotionality and originality to her storyline and fully succeeds in it.
If there are readers out there who wonder if this novel can be read as a standalone novel, I can say that it may possible to read it as a standalone story, but you'll miss out on a lot of backstory and depth unless you're familiar with the previous happenings. I recommend starting with Legends on the Prairies, because it's the first novel, and then you should immediately read Ghosts on the Prairies. When you've read both of these novels, you'll be able to understand the story in a better and more profound way, because it involves secrets, spirits and a curse.
One of the strengths of the Sacred Land Stories is that it's different kind of speculative fiction. The events in this series take place on the US-Canadian border lands and prairies, which brings freshness to the novels. The prairies provide an unusual and intriguing setting for the events, because several things happen on the peaceful prairies and in the dark tunnels beneath the ground. Life on the prairies is not peaceful, but hard and rough, and love is often mingled with grief and pain.
Here's a bit of information about the story:
- In the prologue, Russ and his brother, Cal, talk to their ghostly grandfather Silver who tells them that they have serious business to discuss. Silver tells them that legends say brothers are destined to end a curse plaguing the land and mentions that their destinies are written. Russ and Cal learn that if Sacred Land is destroyed, everything will die: the plants, the animals, and all the people. They also hear from Silver that he did something that brought an ancient curse back to life...
- Seven years later, Russ is hunting a cougar, but saves it, because it has cubs. When the cougar kills a horse, Russ hears from his father that sometimes they have to do things to protect themselves... Russ likes Isabelle Dubois and intends to marry her one day... Soon Isabelle is snatched up by men who are dressed like ghosts...
As you can see by this brief description about the happenings, this novel is something different. It's a brilliantly poignant and vivid glimpse at life during a sightly alternate early 20th century.
Just like in the previous novels, the characterisation is fluent and works well. I like the author's way of writing about Russ and his life, because Russ is an interesting and well-created character who finds himself in the middle of happenings that are connected to the past. He's a young man who has plans, but he also has a destiny, which he may not be able to avoid. As the story begins to unfold, many things are revealed about Russ and those who are close to him.
What happens between Russ and Isabelle is handled perfectly. In my opinion, Tanya Reimer effortlessly and touchingly describes what happens to them, because life and destiny complicate their relationship.
I was impressed by the harrowing grittiness of the story arc. It's great that the author avoids easy resolutions and delivers scenes that are not forced, but achingly realistic despite their occasionally fantastical and speculative nature. The author has a masterful control of elements related to past happenings, secrets and destinies, because she writes about them in a gripping way without preaching. This means a lot in the long run, because it creates a sense of realism that acts as an important counterbalance to the speculative fiction elements.
This novel has many memorable and well written scenes. In one of these scenes, Russ has a conversation with his father about destiny. I enjoyed this scene, because Russ learns from his father that his dreams and plans may not come true, because his future will be different. According to his father, Russ is fighting against destiny and it will cause problems unless he accepts what will happen to him.
The author writes excellently about Isabelle and her pregnancy. I won't go into details about what happens in the story, but these events moved me and I'm sure that others will feel the same when they read about Isabelle's condition.
One of the best things about this novel and the whole series is that Tanya Reimer writes well about spirits and souls. I've read many novels in which authors tackle with similar kind of things, but this novel is different from them, because the story is deeply grounded in cultural identity. In this novel, the author excels at writing about these things, because she writes more confidently about them than ever before (her development as an author can clearly be seen in the story).
Although this novel and the whole series is pure fiction, a careful reader can find quite a lot wisdom in each of the novels. Because many things are concealed and not everything is revealed at once, readers have an opportunity to discover things for themselves as they read about the characters and their fates. I appreciate this kind of storytelling, because it's rewarding to think about the happenings and their meanings in the story.
Tanya Reimer writes fluent prose and has her own literary voice. Her prose resonates with harsh realism, because the tranquility of the prairies is often shattered by acts of greed, hate and violence. Because the many themes and issues related to race, hate, cultural identity, violence and slavery are an important part of the storyline, it's great to see the author write about them in a believable way. Nothing about these themes and issues feels artificial.
If you've never had an opportunity to take a look at Tanya Reimer's novels, you should read them, because they're captivating and immersive reading experiences. They're something different and will appeal to readers who are fascinated by stories that have depth and intriguing happenings. They feature many happenings that will linger on your mind for a long time after you've finished reading them.
Before I write the final words of this review, I have to mention that Tanya Reimer is a talented author whose novels I've come to appreciate and enjoy a lot, because I find her stories compelling, harrowing and original. There's something thoroughly gripping and thought-provoking about them that fascinates me and challenges my perception of the world. Because I enjoyed this series and found this final novel fully satisfying, I look forward to reading what the author writes next.
Tanya Reimer's Cursed on the Prairies is a well written conclusion to the Sacred Land Stories. It's just as entertaining and thought-provoking as the previous novels. If you've enjoyed reading the previous novels and found them captivating, you owe it to yourself to read this novel, because the author has written a strong and harrowing story that will satisfy fans of the series.