Thursday, 7 September 2017

The Blue Wolf reviewed 1913

By W. Lacey Amy.
Toronto: The Musson Book Company.
Book Review from The Canadian Magazine, May 1913, column The Literary Table. Digitized by Doug Frizzle, September 2017.

IT is safe to say at the outset that “The Blue Wolf” will be popular, for it has plenty of action and colour, and contains many novel and dramatic situations. The story in brief is that of a young Torontonian who goes to Alberta to take a three months’ holiday at the ranch of an old college chum, one of a group of five who have had a lasting bond of friendship. Two of the five have already visited at the same ranch, and both have met with fatal accidents. It so happens that the rancher’s household contains, at the time of the arrival of the Torontonian, the rancher himself, his wife, his sister (Margaret) and one other of the five chums. The mistress of the household (Aggie by familiar name) was well known to the other members of the “quintuplets” in the East, and it appears that her husband has developed a deadly jealousy, so deadly indeed that it has driven him in the past to cause the death of the two chums who have visited at the ranch. Now his purpose seems to be to bring about the death of the other two. Margaret was a former sweetheart of the last of the chums to arrive on the scene. This last is familiarly known as “Count.” When they meet again at the ranch their old love for each other is revived, although the Count suspects that the girl is in love with a corporal of the North West Mounted Police. “The Blue Wolf” is a name given to a mysterious creature that emits terrific howls at night, and terrifies the whole neighbourhood in a certain section of the Cypress Hills. These howls, and several other terribly supernatural noises, cause much discomfort in the ranch household, and there is over all a suppressed air of mystery. The development of a feeling of impending fate is one of the best parts of the book, and that part, together with the character of the Count, are the chief features of the story. The character of the Count is indeed a novel venture, and Mr. Amy has succeeded in depicting a snob who goes to the West, and, notwithstanding his inherent tendency towards snobbery, displays at times some evidences of manliness, and he might with exceptional opportunities become a hero. His natural cowardice, however, is always apparent, and the author manages to keep this character’s weaknesses well to the front, notwithstanding evidences now and then of a wish to be tolerant. It forms a good instance of the rounding-out that the West can give to the Easterner who needs it. The leader of a sect called “The Dreamers,” and the corporal are principal characters of the story, and the leader’s appearances and disappearances at unexpected times add much to the mystery. There are many tense, even melodramatic, incidents, and one wonders that in the Canadian West to-day there could be discovered a locale that almost rivals Rider Haggard. One cannot help regretting that it does not present a pleasanter picture of life, a picture indeed more in keeping with what is usually encountered there; but the author’s purpose, no doubt, was to write a story that would hold the reader’s attention, and in that he has succeeded. Mr. Amy writes of the West from considerable first-hand knowledge. He lived for a time at Medicine Hat, and had opportunity to witness the operations and life of the ranchers in that part of the Dominion. Already he is well known to readers of The Canadian Magazine as a writer of descriptive articles, light sketches and short fiction, “The Blue Wolf” is his first novel.

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As an armed forces brat, we lived in Rockcliff (Ottawa), Namao (Edmonton), Southport (Portage La Prairie), Manitoba, and Dad retired to St. Margaret's Bay, NS.
Working with the Federal Govenment for 25 years, Canadian Hydrographic Service, mostly. Now married to Gail Kelly, with two grown children, Luke and Denyse. Retired to my woodlot at Stillwater Lake, NS, on the rainy days I study the life and work of A. Hyatt Verrill 1871-1954.