Children’s Book Reviews
Children's Book Reviews: Black Chuck
Publish May 8, 2018
Weeks before graduation, the unexpected and gory death of Shaun Henry-Deacon shakes up a previously close-knit group of friends, leaving a lot of questions. Convinced he has been possessed by a Wendigo, best friend Réal Dufresne questions his own role in Shaun’s death. Réal wonders if he has followed in his great uncle Black Chuck’s footsteps and consumed Shaun. Complicating matters is Evie Hawley, Shaun’s pregnant girlfriend. Evie and Réal are drawn together in their grief. Their sudden closeness sparks jealousy in Sunny, another friend. Unfolding events raise more questions surrounding Shaun’s death, and previously unexplored layers of friendship threaten them all.
Author Regan McDonell makes her teen fiction debut with Black Chuck, a gritty, dark mystery that finds its roots in the Indigenous belief of the Wendigo, a fiend with the ability to possess others. Unable to remember the events of the night of Shaun’s death after they fought, Réal is haunted by nightmares of eating flesh and believes it proves his guilt. Alternating between perspectives, Shaun’s true character and his end is revealed through Réal and Evie, as well as friends Alex and Sunny.
Shaun’s untimely death shakes the foundation of the community; it is one more change coming their way with their impending graduation. McDonell captures their diverging paths with heart and talent, exploring the secrets we keep from others and ourselves, and the decisions that determine who we are.
An avid promoter of Canadian teen fiction, Amy Mathers completed the Marathon of Books in 2014. The money she raised allowed the Canadian Children’s Book Centre to fund the Amy Mathers Teen Book Award. She also reviews for the Canadian Children’s Book News and writes a monthly article for the CCBC e-newsletter.
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