Book recommendation: The Night Wanderer: A Native Gothic Novel, by Drew Hayden Taylor

I’ll admit, I don’t often read modern vampire stories. I’m not sure why that is, to be honest. Maybe I hold the more traditional stories more closely, making me hesitant to read something written in today’s world.

Those hesitant feelings did make an appearance when I came across The Night Wanderer, but they were pushed aside by the description of the story’s setting and characters. After all, I haven’t seen any other novels about a vampire on an aboriginal reserve. I was more than a little intrigued.

The life of 16-year-old Tiffany hasn’t exactly been easy. She doesn’t do well in school, her mother left a little over a year ago, and she and her father haven’t been getting along. The only real bright spot in her life is her boyfriend, Tony. However, it isn’t until her father rents out her room that Tiffany’s life really starts to unwind. The arrival of their visitor, Pierre, means having to stay in the family’s creepy basement. But it turns out that the basement isn’t nearly as creepy as the man staying with her family.

I have to admit, the character of Tiffany did annoy me at times. But, that was because of her teenage attitude more than anything. She acted the way that many teenagers do, which added a great realistic aspect to this supernatural tale.

My favourite character in the novel, though, was Pierre. His point of view gets plenty of attention throughout the novel, and I found myself looking forward to the next time we’d see the world through his eyes. He definitely had that creepiness factor, but his story was so interesting that I couldn’t help wanting to know him better.

The plot and characters alone aren’t the reason I’m recommending this book. Being set on a reserve and focusing on Anishinaabe characters, the novel effortlessly discusses aboriginal culture. It touches on everything from traditional customs to youth suicide rates, but all in a way that flows with the story and fits into Tiffany’s world.

All in all, The Night Wanderer is a great combination of culture, gothic horror, and modern-day young adult novel. I highly recommend that you take the time to read it.

Goodreads summary

“A sleepy native reservation. A troubled teen girl. A vampire returns home.”

Nothing ever happens on the Otter Lake reservation. But when 16-year-old Tiffany discovers her father is renting out “her” room, she’s deeply upset. Sure, their guest is polite and keeps to himself. But he’s also a little creepy.

Little do Tiffany, her father or even her astute Granny Ruth suspect the truth. The mysterious Pierre L’Errant is actually a vampire, returning to his tribal home after centuries spent in Europe. But Tiffany has other things on her mind: her new boyfriend is acting weird, disputes with her father are escalating, and her estranged mother is starting a new life with somebody else.

Fed up and heartsick, Tiffany threatens drastic measures and flees into the bush. There, in the midnight woods, a chilling encounter with L’Errant changes everything… for both of them.

A mesmerizing blend of Gothic thriller and modern coming-of-age novel, The Night Wanderer is unlike any other vampire story.

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