I am so happy I had the chance to read an advance copy of Bad Cree by Jessica Johns. It is a beautifully written horror novel that focuses on family and grief.
It opens with Mackenzie, a young Cree woman, waking from a dream in which she was fighting off crows. When Mackenzie wakes, she is shocked to realize she holds a severed crow’s head in her hands. She blinks, and it is gone. But the crows that have been following her during her waking hours remain. This nightmare is the beginning of a series of bad dreams that sets Mackenzie on a path of figuring out the cause of these nightmares that feel like memories.
After her kokum died, Mackenzie moved from High Prairie to Vancouver to escape her grief. Mackenzie also lost her sister a year ago. Now, she returns home to try to remember what happened on one of her family’s trips to the lake and to investigate why crows are still following her.
Review of Bad Cree
This supernatural horror is character-driven and is a bit of a slow burn. It focuses on Cree family dynamics. The slow parts might be a drawback for some readers, but as an Indigenous woman, I lapped it up. It reminded me of growing up and hanging out with extended family.
The author provides context for the handful of Cree words throughout the text. I know a scant amount of Cree, but fortunately, I understood nearly all of the terms and messaged a family member for the one word I didn’t. But as I said, context is there, and Google could be handy.
The tension ebbs and flows in this novel. It starts with a nightmarish quality (literally) and becomes more strained and eerie as it progresses.
It is exciting to see more Indigenous writers having a chance to share stories. I might be biased, but Indigenous people are great storytellers.
I highly recommend picking this up as soon as you can.
My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Expected Publication: 10 January 2023
Thank you to HarperCollins Canada for providing an arc via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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