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A tale of mystery and healing from the Canadian forests, where Nature can be nasty and men can easily go mad.
We’re in the Canadian uplands, a landscape of lakes and forests, cabins and canoes, hunters and hunted. The Healer is a young teenage girl with a gift she finds hard to bear: she seems able to heal the sick, to drive out foul spirits. Her father is a brutal man: strong, tempestuous and violent, he finds it hard to accommodate his daughter’s abilities in the way she would wish. A journalist, our principal narrator, comes between them, sent by his magazine to secure a story.
Entranced by the girl and the emptiness of the land, he buys from a persuasive realtor the derelict lakeside cabin which becomes the centre of the action, as all three main characters swirl into a vortex of vengeance and violence – violence reflected in a landscape of storms and floods of terrifying power. Hollingshead proves himself a writer who knows the lethal force latent in the natural world. And that man is an animal too.
she could, a scrap of screening, for it seemed to her that she had recently seen a small section of such material folded and tucked up somewhere, and though it was not metal but nylon (she believed), it would do. Perhaps in the attic or out back in the shed. She only hoped that she had not seen it in the crawl space under the house, in a cubbyhole between joists, something like that, for she was reluctant to descend there on account of the muck from the flood but also on account of a horror of
you?” Her eyes stayed with his. “That’s about you,” she said. “What you’d do. Now what about everything else?” But he had already turned away and was walking back toward the fence and failed to see the movement of her hand to indicate not only the grove beyond but also everything around them, the house and the seventy and more years of isolation and suffering and blundering clutches at freedom it had known, and the entry into its history that selling it would constitute, and the squeamishness
drank the milk. For some time she sat and watched the night above the town, yellowed by the lights. Later she broke off a dozen hemlock boughs and piled them in the small clearing and stood and looked at them. A few minutes later she climbed the hill above the path to a bowl of rock bottomed with needles of pine and balsam. The forest canopy was thicker there, and the needles were dry, or dry enough. She returned to the clearing for the boughs. It was past midnight by the time she had got them
rummaging in the trunk. When Wakelin peeked she was in a T-shirt and underpants, pulling on jeans. In a hardware store yesterday he had overheard the person on the cash, a hound-faced woman of middle age, say in a droll voice to the pretty teenager on the next register, “But I can’t understand how you could go home without your shoes. Bra, panties… but shoes?” That little joke now made a synergy with this glimpse of Clarice, and Wakelin went a little faint. Clarice put the windows and the roof
one he was headed. He did not turn around and walk toward the shots. He did not want to see Ross Troyer again. Not out here. He also did not want to be shot for a deer by a party of drunken hunters. But it wasn’t deer season, was it? For a bear, then. He did not want to be shot for a bear. He imagined he was looping around from the southeast, heading north to meet the power-line road, which he would walk to his car. Taking care that Troyer was not waiting at it. Or had some of those shots been