Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group


Mormons. Polygamy. Taxidermy. Love.

Alissa York

Thomas Dunne Books




"A small masterpiece . . . Exhilarating and genuinely fresh." ---National Post (Canada)

Set on a Mormon ranch in nineteenth-century Utah, and inspired by the real events of the Mountain Meadows Massacre of 1857, Alissa York's Effigy is a haunting story of a polygamous family united by faith but separated by secrets.

At the heart of the novel is Dorrie, the fourth wife of rancher, hunter, and horse breeder Erastus Hammer. A pale child bride with a mass of untamable black hair, she cannot recall anything of her life before she recovered from an illness at the age of seven. Her keenest pleasure lies in the act of bringing dead creatures to life through the art of taxidermy, and Hammer has married her not for love, or even lust, but so that she might make fitting trophies of his kills. The matter is urgent for Hammer, as he is slowly going blind.

Happy to be given this work, Dorrie secludes herself in her workshop world, away from Mother Hammer's watchful eye and the rivalry of the elder wives. But when Hammer brings Dorrie a whole family of wolves to fashion into a tableau, she struggles with her craft for the first time in her short life, dreaming each night of crows and strange scenes of violence. The new hand, Bendy Drown, is the only one to see her dilemma and offer her help, a dangerous game in a Mormon household.

Outside, a lone wolf prowls the grounds looking for his lost pack, and his nocturnal searching will unearth the secret tensions of this complex and conflicted family.


Chapter One

SHE'S BEEN LOOKING OUT for them since the sun still hung over the Stansbury Range. Now, as they finally shimmer into view, it is night.

Standing in the open barn door, Dorrie peers out across moonlit pasture, marking their...


Praise for Effigy

“York's mesmerizing tale is rich in historical detail and driven by a cast of deftly drawn and perfectly memorable characters. . . . A wonderful book.” —Lori Lansens, bestselling author of The Girls

“Alissa York's Effigy is a historical fiction almost frighteningly real. Her creation of Erastus Hammer's four wives and complex household in frontier Utah is so precise and convincing, and allows the reader so entirely and readily inside, that the only uncertainty is how to get back to the present again. This is a rewarding read. Don't miss it.” —Fred Stenson, Giller-nominated author of The Trade

“A small masterpiece . . . Exhilarating and genuinely fresh.” —National Post (Canada)

“York's writing is graphic and impressionistic, sharp-edged and sensual. Though both style and landscape at times bring to mind Annie Dillard and Cormac McCarthy, York's voice is very much her own.” —Quill & Quire (Canada)

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Alissa York

Alissa York's highly acclaimed first novel, Mercy, was published in 2003. Her short stories have won several awards, including the Journey Prize and the Bronwen Wallace Award, and Effigy was short-listed for the 2007 Giller Prize, Canada's largest annual prize for fiction. York has lived all over Canada, and now makes her home in Toronto with her husband.

Alissa York

From the Publisher

Thomas Dunne Books

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