‘Shot-Blue is that rarest species, a genuinely wise novel.’ – Rivka Galchen
Rachel is a young single mother living with her son, Tristan, on a lake that borders the unchannelled north – remote, nearly inhospitable. She does what she has to do to keep them alive. But soon, and unexpectedly, Tristan will have to live alone, his youth unprotected and rough. The wild, open place that is all he knows will be overrun by strangers – strangers inhabiting the lodge that has replaced his home, strangers who make him fight, talk, and even love, when he doesn't want to. Ravenous and unrelenting, Shot-Blue is a book of first love and first loss.
‘Simply breathtaking … Ruddock writes moments of startling intimacy.’
– New York Times
‘All big dreams and knitted brows, Shot-Blue is a serious and demanding book, contemplating widely in wandering prose. Ruddock is a poet (among other things) and we can call this her debut novel or we can call it what it is: poetry. She taps skills honed across mediums – Ruddock a songwriter and photographer besides – to paint vividly a savage, inhospitable northern winter and the human collateral it claims.’
– National Post
‘There is something ancient, primal and almost biblical about the story Shot-Blue tells … An intensely imaginative and lucid study of human feeling in all its depth and range.’
– Music & Literature
‘A tough, hardscrabble book … Ruddock has a horrible knack for immediacy.’
– Globe and Mail
‘A moving, lyrical novel. [...] A searing debut.’
– Kirkus Reviews
‘This poetically written book is full of riddles, of characters talking past each other and misunderstanding one another in the vein of a Shakespearean love tangle. Loneliness, the very human inability to communicate with one another in a way that reveals our deepest selves, is the point. The novel is a fine corrective to fiction that assumes that people are rational actors and that motive is straightforward or even discernible.’
– Publishers Weekly
‘Ruddock’s prose style is often painterly, a talent she is unafraid to wield with bravado … She ends her book as poetically as she began it, foregoing straightforward answers for something bordering on intuition, leaving the reader to float face up in the sea of vibrant language, bobbing in her shifting, ambiguous, and graceful waves.’
– Culture Trip
‘Much like Winter’s Bone, Shot-Blue is written in a style that somehow combines an easy-spoken blue collar minimalism with wordplay and lyricism. The oblique, hidden emotions of the characters are balanced in part by the ingenuity and playfulness of Ruddock’s language.’
– Cleaver Magazine
‘An electric debut novel from a young Canadian writer. Reading Jesse Ruddock’s prose sentence to sentence is like rowing at high speed, each stroke forward is a blunt, visceral experience.’
– Librairie Drawn & Quarterly
‘Jesse Ruddock’s powerful debut, Shot-Blue, is at once charged with lyrical energy and grounded in a complex, human understanding of trauma, desire and loss.’
– The Rusty Toque
‘Ruddock’s ability to craft a complicated story into a haunting and vivid set of ideas of otherness and connection is clear.’
– Hamilton Review of Books
‘Jesse Ruddock understands the weight of things that cannot be said aloud. A sensitive book about lives lived at the edge of society, in the shadow of an idyllic panorama, given voice only in the silence of adolescence.’
– Jenny Erpenbeck, author of The End of Days
‘Stunning and just so gracefully told. Ruddock’s landscape and characters are told by heart and her fierce and beautiful language makes you feel it.’
– Naja Marie Aidt, author of Rock, Paper, Scissors
Shot-Blue is that rarest species, a genuinely wise novel. Its characters are at once too lonely, and insufficiently alone; their landscape feels both tender and indifferent, god-haunted and abandoned. This is a truly exceptional and compelling work, and in that way, its own variety of joy. '
- Rivka Galchen, author of Atmospheric Disturbances
'Jesse Ruddock understands the weight of things that cannot be said aloud. A sensitive book about lives lived at the edge of society, in the shadow of an idyllic panorama, given voice only in the silence of adolescence. '
- Jenny Erpenbeck, author of The End of Days
'Stunning and just so gracefully told. Ruddock's landscape and characters are told by heart and her fierce and beautiful language makes you feel it. '
- Naja Marie Aidt, author of Rock, Paper, Scissors
'[A] searing debut . .. [Shot-Blue] explores the depths of human emotion and the limits we struggle to overcome. A moving, lyrical novel that explores the emotional pain of hardship on children. '