I found The Saturday Night Ghost Club when I was browsing in bookstores in Toronto. At first, I was hesitant to buy this book. Ghost Club? No, thanks. I already know I don’t like horror, but I was intrigued: The Saturday Night Ghost Club was set in Niagara Falls—how quintessential Canada can you get? (See: A Taste of CanLit)
And what a great decision it was. This book was a short yet powerful read, and, frankly, I would have finished the book within a day if it were not for a cute dog trying to get my attention. (Yes, there are things other than mobile phones that distract your typical millennial population, too.)
Well, fine. I also voluntarily paused halfway through because I kept feeling like something really bad was going to happen, and I wanted to delay the impending doom as much as possible. Funnily enough, although I was suspicious that something was wrong, I didn’t get that something right! Nice try, brain; the story’s twists and turns weren’t that obvious.
I’d say Craig Davidson kept me on my toes for all ~250 pages of the book. He also managed to break my heart and then mend it in the same number of pages. What a ride.
During my grand detour, I picked up a few CanLit reads from my two favorite bookstores, Bakka-Phoenix Books and Indigo. I couldn’t purchase too many because (1) I had (and still have) a large pile of books to be read; and (2) I couldn’t fit too many books in my luggage. I ended up a total of four books, and I loved them all. Slightly wish I could have picked up more, but luggage restrictions did not permit…
A lot of the CanLit books on Indigo’s We the North shelf touched on immigration. This wasn’t too surprising, and it reminded me of the new immigrant welcome-ish posters I used to see around Toronto. Anyway, a disclaimer: the We the North shelf was not big enough to accommodate all CanLit works. I also looked for (what I thought were) less mainstream books since I wanted to broaden my scope. The ones I picked up only cover a small portion of CanLit.
Here’s my list of CanLit reads in order of date read.
Another story collection, Cory Doctorow’s Radicalized (see: Novel Reactions: Radicalized) touched on a lot of what if scenarios. This one didn’t seem to be set in Canada (or exclusively in any state), but it was a great read nonetheless.
Children of the Moon
Children of the Moon (see Novel Reactions: Children of the Moon) is an immigrant story of sorts. It focuses on the hardships faced by two characters, both of whom have reached old age by the time they were recounting their stories. It was quite the emotional read, so be ready to decompress after finishing this book.
The Saturday Night Ghost Club
The Saturday Night Ghost Club surprised me. I’m still not over it. Based on the title, I was expecting the story to be more along the lines of Goosebumps (remember that?), but it was totally different. I loved it so much that if I could only recommend one among the four books, I would pick this in a heartbeat.
It’s hard to be the funniest book in a shop filled with Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett and Connie Willis but Toronto’s own Don Bassingthwaite has debuted in the Top 5 with Cocktails at Seven, Apocalypse at Eight! Campy supernatural fun with a killer joke on every page and the most loveable Jewish drag queen werewolf you’ll ever meet. So join Derby Cavendish in saving Church Street and saving the world!
SD, Bakka Phoenix Books
I’m halfway through the collection, and I have to say that it is quite the refreshing read. All of the stories are about Derby Cavendish saving the day (or the world, even), but it’s a different kind of mess and holiday for each story. I particularly took a liking to “Special,” which actually includes the “loveable Jewish drag queen werewolf” mentioned on the blurb.
Apparently, the world is especially vulnerable to dangerous beings on holidays like Christmas, Hanukkah, Halloween, etc. “Special” takes place during Pride, which Derby Cavendish notes does not fall on key dates of supernatural power, and one of Derby’s dearest friends will be playing the Saturday Night Special—exciting!!! I liked the story because it’s all about not letting anyone, not even the evil forces who will take every opportunity to wreak havoc in everyone’s lives, take away your moment, your time to shine. There’s no point in playing the victim, and you find yourself cheering on the underdogs as they fight back.
After having read a few stories in the collection, I’ve decided that I love Derby Cavendish. I love his attitude and humor, and I am definitely enjoying my first taste of Canadian literature.