Set in the 1760s at the time of Pontiac's Indian alliance against the British, "Wacousta" combines elements of revenge tragedy and gothic romance in reconstructing a violent episode in Canadian frontier history. In Major John Richardson's vivid depiction, Pontiac's campaign against Fort Detroit is masterminded by the mysterious Wacousta, a Byronic anti-hero whose thirst for vengeance against the fortress commander borders on madness. Turning upon binary oppositions garrison against wilderness, restraint against passion, mercy against justice this suspenseful novel creates a world of deception and terror in which motive is ambiguous and the boundary between order and anarchy unclear.
First published in 1832, "Wacousta" anticipated many of the themes that would assume central importance in the Canadian narrative imagination. The New Canadian Library edition is an unabridged reprint of the complete original text.