Edgar's father dies, and it isn't until months pass that Edgar begins to suspect that his uncle had a role in the death. The uncle has insinuated his way into their lives, which Edgar deeply resents. He begins to see the ghost of his father, and believes he is being given messages from him.
When Edgar tries to prove his uncle's guilt through a scheme with the dogs, it backfires. He flees into the woods with three of the dogs he has raised and trained. They survive by pillaging food from abandoned cabins, until one day a generous and lonely man, Henry, takes them in. After staying with Henry a while, Edgar comes to realize he has to go back and face his mother, and the uncle he suspects of killing his father.
Up until this point in the book, I was enthralled. The prose is simply beautiful. Some may say that the setting descriptions go on too long, but not me. Every sentence is a work of art. I felt as if I was in the story. The author gives the reader a complete sensory experience. It's a character-driven book, the kind I gravitate toward, and the voice is sublime. I think the author took a course from Richard Russso? I have to check this. But if you like Russo's style, you will like Wroblewski's style. Very much.
Edgar does come home, and after a series of unbelievable circumstances, ends up poisoned by his uncle and engulfed in flames in the barn. Ummm..... This is stupid. The dogs follow a mythic-dog creature (a character in the book) into the woods. I mean, give me a break. I don't mind that our 14 year old hero dies (okay, I do, but still), the ending was almost science fiction. The last twenty pages ruined it for me. The motivations of the uncle (Claude) were never really brought out. And there was a thread about ghosts and apparitions that I thought could've been more strongly developed.
I really liked this book, but the ending subtracts from the experience. Is it meant to be like a modern American Hamlet? I don't know. But that ending. Geesh!