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A Covenant of Salt 

Martine Desjardins (translated by Fred Reed and David Hormel)

A Covenant of Salt
Martine Desjardins (translated by Fred Reed and David Hormel)
Talon Books
Before nutritionists blackballed salt for causing high blood pressure, it was the most valuable and holy of dietary staples. Pure, incorruptible and potentially deadly, salt is the central theme in Montreal author Martine Desjardins' macabre historic thriller, A Covenant of Salt. The novel takes place in Armagh, Quebec, around a salt mine in the early 19th century. Protagonist Her Excellency Lilly McEvoy tells us salt is used for everything from cleaning porcelain to keeping fruits—all told, 4,000 uses. But drinking too much brings death and nothing is more bitter than Lilly's tears of resentment.

The story follows Lilly on the first day she welcomes a visitor in 10 years. From this looming mystery, subtle secrets unravel like the best episodes of Lost. Desjardins reveals the mysteries of Lilly's past with the expertise of a veteran striptease artist.

Don't let the fact this book is translated deter you. Fred Reed and David Homel translated Desjardins' Governor General-winning debut novel, The Fairy Ring, and her second novel. Like the natives working deep in Armagh's salt mine, Desjardins goes spelunking and finds, without beating you over the head with historical drama, how the past is always toiling unseen below daily life.
Mike Landry


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