Review: Twenty-One Cardinals – Jocelyne Saucier

4 of 5 stars
Published 2006
Translated from French by Rhonda Mullins

The Cardinal family is reuniting after nearly 30 years. They haven’t all been in the same place at the same time since a tragedy in a local mine tore them apart but the secret behind that tragedy is about to come out after being hidden for so long.

There were 21 children in the family. They were out of control, nearly feral in the town of Norco, a mining town in Quebec, the mine their prospector father discovered. The mine that was ultimately their undoing. Told from the point of view of several of the siblings, we hear about their escapades, their united front, their guilt and how they deal with it as adults, their conspiracy to hide the truth of the  disappearance of one of them from their mother and youngest brother, but the real truth was something none of them saw coming.

The truth of the disappearance is known to the reader through most of the book but the plot doesn’t seem forced or trite. It’s probably a bit unrealistic perhaps, but you believe it. The final twist might not be a surprise by the time you’ve learned more about the missing sister. This is a translated book and the translator’s prose is beautiful. I can only imagine how lovely it might be in the original French.



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