First of all, I would argue that this is a book of short stories (and as any of you who have read my reviews before know that means that at most it would qualify for a 4 star rating). This is not a prequal to The Round House (which I loved), it is simply backstory, and I’m not sure that the timing on it is accurate. This book ends (I think) around 1976-78 and starts around 1964 (Evelina starts college in 1972 and the story runs from when she is 10 until a few years after college). The Round House is about the same small town, the same family and some of the same issues and starts in 1988 (which is slightly difficult because the main character of The Round House, Joe, is 13 and so needs to have been born around 1975, but in Plague of the Doves his birth has not yet occurred).
Besides the timing issues, I didn’t find a lot in Plague of the Doves that was compelling. The book is divided into 8 sections, 3 of each are narrated by Evelina (Joe from RH’s cousin), 3 narrated by Bazil Coutts (Joe’s father), and then two from white townspeople. The stories narrated by Cordelia and Marn are nice short stories and they do provide interesting commentary on the town; but really they are just short stories.
Evelina and Bazil are interesting characters and the pieces provide lots of back story (again) and commentary on the relationship between the Indians on the reservation and the white townspeople.
Unlike RH, the characters in PoD are mostly Christians. The exception is Mooshum (both Joe and Evelina’s grandfather). He has a great theory on hell: “'If hell was hot enough to eat the flesh, there would be no flesh left to suffer,’ said Mooshum. ‘And if hell was meant to burn the soul, which is invisible, it would have to be imaginary fire, the flames of which you cannot feel.’” Really, it made me laugh out loud.
I thought the story about Neve having been kidnapped by her own husband was way too much like Fargo (the Coen brothers’ movie), right down to the wintery North Dakota setting.
It was an interesting read, but felt not very creative or compelling (compared to RH) and seemed to be a cop-out with just more information about the same set of people. Overall, I guess I didn’t really feel like there was anything new here.