Half-Wild and Other Stories of Encounter
Thistledown Press / 14 November 2023

Half-Wild and Other Stories of Encounterby Emily PaskevicsPublished by Thistledown PressReview by Shelley A. Leedahl$24.95 ISBN 9781771872485 It’s entirely rare that a first book packs a punch like Emily Paskevics’ Half-Wild and Other Stories of Encounter. The Ontario writer’s auspicious debut is multi-layered, engrossing, and technically well-wrought (Paskevics is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers), and it credibly features the no-nonsense, hunting-and-fishing folks who populate Ontario’s hardy wilderness communities. If you love gothic literature, you’ll devour these dozen stories. Think taxidermy. Animal fetuses in jars. Hitting a strange creature with your car on a dark, lonely road. Think “mobile home with its porch light swinging … The blue painted door is all scratched up from when a bear tried to get in”. Often characters are fleeing, or someone close to them has recently died, and the remote landscapes—rife with bears, wolves, coyotes, harsh climate and dangerous waters—brilliantly parallel the characters’ dire situations, their psychological turmoil, and the endangered ecosystem. “Bear Bones” is set in Sadowa, where “deer-crossing signs [are] half-battered with buckshot,” a snowstorm’s afoot, and Louisa’s gone missing in a “man’s oilskin coat”. There’s a touch of magic realism at play, but the next story—also featuring loner…