Explore Cumberland’s history in novel

You can explore Cumberland history and all its gothic grit this Christmas with Kim Bannerman’s latest novel Bucket of Blood.

You can explore Cumberland history and all its gothic grit this Christmas with Kim Bannerman’s latest novel Bucket of Blood.

Bucket of Blood is set in Cumberland in 1898, at a time when coal was king and the Bucket of Blood was one of the village’s most notorious drinking holes.

With 15-year-old rule-breaking Lizzie Saunders as your guide, journey into a chaotic Victorian landscape where European and Asian cultures clash, where mine disasters loom as a daily concern and opium smuggling occurs in dark alleys.

“It re-envisions Cumberland history in a way that’s adventurous, suspenseful, and dark,” says Bannerman. “It places us within a wider world stage but at the same time, humanizes Comox Valley history through a series of fascinating people thrown together in a mystery.”

In many ways, Bucket of Blood is a novel Bannerman was meant to write.

The book is inspired by the stories of her coal-mining grandfather, John, and her historian-teacher father, Ron, who shared village anecdotes in his walking tours. Add her own anthropological studies and love of forensic investigation, and a murder mystery was born.

“The idea came to me when I was living in Vancouver,” she said. “I wanted to write a mystery and when I thought about Cumberland and its amazing past, I realized I already had the setting.

“I found myself writing about real places as I was interacting with them: for example, I wrote a scene about Tarbell’s Hardware store while sitting in Tarbell’s Café, and later I read that scene in the same spot during the Cumberland Museum’s AGM. The opportunity to mix real locations with fiction has been fantastic.”

The book is earning positive reviews for its clear, suspenseful writing proven to keep you reading. Perfect for history and mystery buffs, Bucket of Blood is also suitable for young adults, who don’t mind a bit of gore in their reading.

“It’s a really amazing experience to read a juicy tale of intrigue that’s steeped in history and filled with familiar locations,” says Meaghan Cursons, executive director for the Cumberland Museum.

“Bucket of Blood will make a wonderful gift for Christmas,” adds Cumberland mayor Leslie Baird.

Bannerman’s poetry, essays, and short stories have appeared in publications across Europe, Australia, and North America, including Herizons Magazine and Omnidawn Publishing’s ground-breaking Paraspheres Anthology.

Bucket of Blood is her fourth novel. She has also published The Tattooed Wolf (Double Dragon, 2004), The Wolf of Gilsbury Cross (Double Dragon, 2006), and The Fire Song (Fox&Bee, 2011).

In 2006, her short story, The Mask & The Maze was nominated for a Hugo Award, Fountain Award, and Aurora Award. In 2008, she received a Canada Council Grant for Professional Writers to write Bucket of Blood.

Bannerman resides in Cumberland with her husband Shawn, her two children, and mischievous dog named Loki.

Bucket of Blood is available at the Laughing Oyster Bookstore in Courtenay, Blue Heron Books in Comox, Stillwater Books in Campbell River, the Courtenay & District Museum and Archives, and the Cumberland Museum.

— Kim Bannerman


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