“Stark and beautiful, horrifying and lyrical, Black Dove's pages thrum with flight, transformation, grief, revenge, transcendence, the remorseless power of stories and the very nature of creation. Ever since reading, Black Dove has drifted in and out of my dreams.” —Helen Macdonald, author H Is For Hawk
In a tall and narrow house, on a stained and busy street, live twelve-year-old Oliver and his father, a story-loving writer. Haunted by the ghost of his alcoholic mother, Oliver finds comfort in his father’s impromptu tales: the Black Dove, an elusive flower that gives strength; the girl who consumes it as she battles attackers and yearns for happier realms. Stories where lonely souls keep searching despite their losses and grief.
Running from a bully one night, Oliver hides in a junk shop owned by an enigmatic man. Soon, instead of hiding in the janitor’s closet after school, Oliver spends afternoons in the shop, a cavernous place full of storied oddities and grubby wonders where creatures rise up from the basement. A snake in the shape of a boy. A hunter named Night, part panther, part hound, who proves to Oliver that the world holds invisible wonder.
Wanting to forget his mother, afraid of his own genes, constantly harassed by bullies, Oliver joins the shop owner in experimenting with dangerous forms of genetic editing. Meanwhile, he meets the girl from across the street, and their friendship grows in a neighbourhood where magic is real, where murderers gather, and where the darker consequences of fantasies play out.
A twisting story of grief and revenge, Black Dove is a thrilling read with its own kind of magic. In rich but tightly reined prose, McAdam celebrates the value and shortfalls of storytelling, finding a light in all the darkness to conjure a tender portrait of childhood’s end.
Praise for Black Dove
Praise for Black Dove
Tor.com Can’t Miss Indie Press Speculative Fiction for January and February 2023
A Globe and Mail Best Book of the Year
“I have long been convinced that Colin McAdam is a literary genius. What’s extraordinary is that each of the books he writes is a totally distinct type of genius. Every time. He’s in a league of his own.”
—Max Porter, author of Grief Is the Thing with Feathers
"McAdam chronicles a boy’s magical transformation in this brooding, memorable outing... Readers will be enchanted by this dark adventure."
"Fairy tales have always contained elements of nightmares, but rarely are they so graphically presented... Mr. McAdam posits storytelling as a kind of apotropaic magic that wards off tragedy by depicting its most frightening forms. I think I see what this gifted and unpredictable author is after, but I’m not yet ready to forgive him for subjecting me to such terrors."
–The Wall Street Journal
“Colin McAdam conjures, in intoxicating prose, a grief-haunted boy offered a kind of Mephistophelean deal by a contemporary Dr. Moreau. Black Dove is tenderly nightmarish and toughly tender—a divine tale of yearning and revenge served up red-hot and with a side of broken hearts.”
—Zsuzsi Gartner, Scotiabank Giller Prize–shortlisted author of The Beguiling
“Colin McAdam’s voice is original and fiercely intelligent. It somehow possesses this combination of hard-won world weariness and exuberant, unshakeable faith in a better world. He exposes all of our treacherous and base instincts but with the unspoken caveat that, in spite of our horrible human ways, we must always, relentlessly, struggle to love each other. Aside from McAdam’s great talents as a storyteller, it’s this feeling I get from his work, profoundly moving, that I strive to duplicate in my own writing.”
—Miriam Toews, Scotiabank Giller Prize–shortlisted author of Fight Night
“Black Dove is an eerie, unsettling, fabulous book. McAdam leads the reader through quotidian and mythical realms with absolute assurance. Stark and beautiful, horrifying and lyrical, its pages thrum with flight, transformation, grief, revenge, transcendence, the remorseless power of stories and the very nature of creation. Ever since reading, Black Dove has drifted in and out of my dreams.”
—Helen Macdonald, author of the New York Times bestselling H Is For Hawk
"If, like me, you read to have your mind blown and your heart stretched, then Colin McAdam’s darkly magnificent Black Dove is for you. McAdam never writes a false sentence and is unflinching in his depiction of human cruelty, violence but also the most delicate and ennobling love. Black Dove is an extraordinary feat of imagination and of art.”
—David Bezmozgis, Scotiabank Giller Prize–shortlisted author of Immigrant City
Praise for Colin McAdam
“Both disarmingly familiar and richly, movingly strange."
—The Wall Street Journal
“A powerful, poetic, bawdily funny, and tenderly sad novel about class, about love, about drink, about poetics, about land, and about money—a few of the salient things that life and history are made of.”
—O, The Oprah Magazine
"McAdam's novel is complex, subtle and intensely moving."
"A riveting story that breathlessly and beautifully swallows the reader, so there is the sensation of being in there and not just observing what happen . . . Reading it is a marvelous experience."
—Elizabeth Strout, bestselling author of Olive Kitteridge, Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
"McAdam teases and turns around language, giving us a creative and wondrous portrait of nonhuman society from the inside out."
"A work of exquisite sensitivity and prowess, McAdams' tale is of two species astride not a divide but a continuum, of our longings and resiliencies and the fate we share: being stronger than we are evolved."
—Alex Shakar, author of Luminarium