Book review: Portrait of a B.C. small town stained blue by a slow death

By Tom Sandborn
The Chatham Daily News
December 30, 2022
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

In the early 1990s, the pine forests of British Columbia faced a disastrous beetle infestation. The pests, proliferating because of the higher temperatures brought by climate change, were boring through rough outer bark and burrowing through the trees’ living cambium layer. Within weeks the infested trees’ sapwood was stained blue by an associated fungal infection; soon the tree was dead, and the forest turned the scabbed, dull red of drying blood.  While the forests died, rural logging and mill towns began to suffer, too. Cambium Blue, B.C. author Maureen Brownlee’s second novel, is set in one of those towns, the fictional Beauty Creek. Brownlee, whose well-received first book, 2013’s Loggers’ Daughters, was also set in rural B.C., has worked as a journalist in a small B.C. town not unlike the hard-scrabble towns that provide the settings for her stories.

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