The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich

The Bluebeard plotline of this deft and subtle book is the one that haunted me and kept me going, even though the anxiety of coronavirus social distancing interrupted my reading and spread it out over weeks.

This must have been a difficult book to write. The horror in it is buried deep and handled masterfully. There are different forms of bravery, all of them very dear. As is often the case with Erdrich, the bravest moments are shown with a sort of practical detachment that allows the characters to get on with what they have to do. The author’s personal connection to this story is the deepest of all and I applaud her for being able to stick with the story and not get overwhelmed by the enormity and the rage.

One of my favorite things about how this book wraps up: there are a couple of romances that are hinted, and would make sense, but the book ends without anything coming of them.

Incidentally, and very charmingly, there is a happy ending for a character that I didn’t realize could even have an ending. There’s an endlessly dark humor to it, but it’s charming nonetheless; by the end of this book, that kind of horror is just scenery, and we just accept it, because it has the right to exist alongside all else.

I am excited now to be able to read reviews and interviews. I held off because I didn’t want to interfere with the delicacy of the novel’s suspense.

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