Book review: The Night Wanderer: A Graphic Novel by Drew Hayden Taylor

[I received this review copy through NetGalley from Annick Press. This review is also posted on Goodreads and on NetGalley.]

The program I teach in uses a lot of Drew Hayden Taylor’s plays as required reading, so I was eager to check out this graphic novel to see if it would be suitable for our new First Peoples English course. It is a graphic novel adaptation of The Night Wanderer: A Gothic Novel. As far as I know, there aren’t a lot of vampire novels set on First Nations reserves! Overall, I enjoyed it.

I will definitely use this as a text for First Peoples English. First of all, I’m intrigued by the use of genre–I think the story suits the graphic novel format particularly well given that the narrative relies on atmosphere. The illustrations are clear, crisp, and make good use of contrasts (dark/light areas). The book tells a simple story and tells it well–Tiffany Hunter is an Anishnaabe teenager living on the Otter Lake Reserve who is clashing with her dad, not doing well at school, and experiencing the pains of young love. Pierre L’Errant is a mysterious European stranger whom the Hunter family take in as a boarder to help with the rent since Tiffany’s mother left.

Even though the book is short and we don’t get to know Tiffany or Pierre particularly deeply, Drew Hayden Taylor does a good job of revealing their personalities and circumstances through current events and flashbacks. The narrative provides opportunities to discuss various aspects of Indigenous storytelling as well as social issues like prejudice and racism.

My only issue with the book is that I wish it were longer! It seemed to end a bit abruptly.

Recommended for young adult audiences or anyone interested in a good fast read that combines a look at Indigenous culture and…vampire lore.

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