The Night Wanderer: A Native Gothic Novel by Drew Hayden TaylorThe Night Wanderer: A Native Gothic Novel by Drew Hayden Taylor is a YA coming-of-age story based in the late 90s on a fictional First Nations reserve in Ontario.

A sleepy native reserve. 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.

From the publisher, Annick Press

After examining this novel very closely in my English Lit class, I’m a little apathetic about blogging a review. It’s difficult to change from the ‘critical literary analysis’ mindframe to a personal book review for my blog.

When I was reading the book, prior to lecture and tutorial, I kept scoffing at the text because it’s almost over-simplified for the audience. On the surface, the novel seems trivial and not a true “gothic” novel. At times I felt it was merely piggybacking on the supernatural romance genre that has taken off after Twilight.

However, the simplification of the situations and the language makes it a prime example for class study. I would definitely recommend a grade 6 or 7 class (age 11-12) to study this in conjunction with First Nations relations in Canada. Taylor deals with aspects of both teen and first nations culture regarding alcohol, smoking, race, suicide, relationships and drugs.

I wouldn’t recommend this to most adults, but I think Taylor introduces the topics in a way that fosters discussion and questioning of cultural norms. He also provides an interesting commentary on embracing your heritage and culture, and not forgetting where you came from.

Drew Hayden Taylor was approached by Annick Press to develop a novel for teens. He “has been directing documentaries, most notably Redskins, Tricksters and Puppy Stew, produced by the National Film Board of Canada” which inspired The Night Wanderer.

  • Books of the Year List, Quill & Quire
  • Book of the Year Award Honorable Mention, ForeWord Magazine
  • Best Books for Kids & Teens, Canadian Children’s Book Centre
  • Children’s Book of the Year finalist, Ânskohk Aboriginal Book Awards
  • Sunburst Awards finalist
  • 2009 Manitoba Young Readers’ Choice Award finalist
  • Arthur Ellis Award finalist
  • 2009-2010 Stellar Book Award finalist, BC Teen Readers’ Choice
  • Saskatchewan Young Readers’ Choice Snow Willow Award nomination