Last October 14, the Thunder Bay Chronicle Journal ran the following review by their longtime arts critic, Michael Sobota.

Here's one of my favourite lines: "There are, indeed, a lot of dead people in Making Up The Gods." It makes me laugh every time.

And he's absolutely right! They are, as he also notes, VERY important to the choices living people make.

Levity aside, I'm very grateful for Michael's review. It's always nice to hear from someone who understands what you were trying to do!

And Michael approaches all of his reviews with great generosity of spirit, which adds positivity to the local writing community.

Thank you, Michael, for all you do! 


Marion Agnew's first novel, Making Up The Gods, is a quintessentially Northwestern Ontario story.  It is an exhibition, a celebration even of where we live.

We follow three very different but readily recognizable characters for a few weeks in early spring.  Simone is an elderly widow, living in a house near the shore of Lake Superior, with a camp just downhill within walking distance, that sits closer to the shore.  These two homes are important and become significant characters in their own way, in Agnew's story.  

Simone is somewhat of a recluse.  By choice.  She relishes her privacy.  With some reluctance, she is coaxed into looking after Chen, a friend's nine-year old son, while the friend is away on an Alaskan cruise.  They are soon interrupted by Martin, a stranger knocking at her door, claiming to be Simone's cousin.  Martin is interested in Simone's property and in coaxing her to sell and relocate to a condo he owns in Florida.  We are aware Martin is not telling Simone the truth, as he has been contracted to carry out this subterfuge by a smarmy, distant "Mr. Smith."

From this exposition, we follow Simone, Chen and Martin through self reflected chapters as their relationships develop and entangle.

Agnew has a superior ear for dialogue and voice.  Chen is a believable, likable nine-year old, both in what he says and does. Simone's reluctance to engage the broader world or better put her happiness within the parameters of her life on the shore, her privacy, is layered with conversations she has with the dead. She has regular conversations with her grumpy, judgemental deceased mother, Carmen as well as her warm and wise husband, William.  They appear and disappear like mist, at their own will.  Simone is not crazy.  She is lonely, and smart, and reflection leads to these questioning conversations she has with these ghosts.

There are, indeed, a lot of dead people in Making Up The Gods.  In addition to Carmen and William, Chen's dad and his stepbrother were recently killed in a major transport accident, as was the transport driver.  The dead are all important to the living in this story and influence both the plotting and pacing of Making Up The Gods.

There is wonderful warmth and humour here. Chen's humour is youngish, playful, testing.  Simone's is dry, richly layered and observant.  As the story moved rapidly along, I wanted all of them to be happy, while not knowing how Agnew might get them there.

There are important teachings for us, the readers, about community, dealing with grief and loss, trust and ultimately, a kid of love, the sort of love that is universal feeling rather than romantic or physical.  It's satisfying and rewarding.

Making Up The Gods will have a special launch at Entershine Bookshop on Sunday, October 15 with the author present for a reading and book signing. This is a wonderful addition for our autumn reading and to your holiday gift giving list.  Highly recommended.