Quebec author Will McClelland has published his debut novel, The Minted (2016, Blue Leaf Press) to some impressive reviews. Quill & Quire noted: “The Minted is nothing like the CanLit with which we are all so familiar.” In his acknowledgements, Mr McClelland confesses: “This book is very much a product of “my first fine careless frenzy” and, as such, writing it almost killed me.” At Goodreads, I rated it 4 out of five stars, which in Goodreads parlance means that “I liked it.” And I very much did.What is The Minted about?
***Warning possible plot spoilers below!***
It takes place in Canada in 2031. Narrator Nicholas A. Cibiades is a thirty-seven-year-old widower who, disillusioned with life goes into the wilderness to ultimately take his own life. Then, one night he is visited by a moose who talks to him:
He drew a circle around me in the sand with his hoof, then twisted his head slightly to one side and locked his left eye upon me. He was
very close and I thought I saw his pupil change shape. Finally, he spoke, and his voice was mighty as a church bell. Like there was a
church bell gonging in his throat. Each word hit me like a Mack truck.
“I have never belonged around a fire before.”
I kept telling myself — yes, Nick, this is really happening.
Turns out this particular moose (“The Moose”) is wanted by the Vancouver police and RCMP for his ringleading role in the Animal Rebellion of 2031, which saw the largest civilian massacre in Canadian history, the Battle of Jasper, Alberta, May 31st, 20131. Fascinated not only with a talking moose but also by having a bit of adventure before his inevitable end, Nicholas travels with The Moose on his journey which ultimately takes them to Ottawa where, five years later in 2036, The Moose is to have a showdown of sorts with “the Minted” of the Royal Canadian Mint (you know, all those animals that have appeared on coins and paper currency over the years – except the moose). That’s the real centre of control, headed by Argent and Gules who keep all the Minted captive along with the British lion and Queen Elizabeth II. Not to be forgotten is The Moose’s “girlfriend” Marianne Brûlé, whom Nicholas personally knew before she started to turn herself into a cyborg and get involved with the Animal Rebellion.
Just this side of deranged, The Minted is admittedly a humorous read (somewhat akin to a Douglas Adams novel), but the deeper ecological and financial messages should not be overlooked. Animals as terrorists? Why not? Who would blame animals if they were to rise up against humankind and overrun the cities of Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver and such? It is their country we are living in and off of, destroying feeding and nesting grounds, food supply, habitat and more. The Moose’s rallying speech is the emotional turning point of The Minted and he urges all creatures great and small:
“Crickets, Coyotes, Cougars – the last ten Cod! Will you rise up?”
The form of the story is in journal entry form (some by each of the three main characters), written, compiled and transcribed by Nicholas as he witnesses firsthand that The Moose and his girlfriend Marianne (now fully android in nature) are on a historical mission to destroy Ottawa and “the Minted”.
If you are looking for something fresh and different to add to your “to-read” shelf then Will MacClelland’s The Minted may be just the thing. At 182 pages, I recommend reading it in one or two sittings for continuity’s sake.