Blood Red Ochre

The Story

Attracted to Nancy’s mysterious behavior and ‘foreign’ looks, David is glad to work with her on a history assignment about the vanished Beothuk Indians of Newfoundland. At Nancy’s insistence, they set out on a canoe trip to Red Ochre Island, a burial place of the Beothuk. Entwined with the story of David and Nancy is that of Dauoodaset, one of the last of the Beothuk. Dauoodaset’s gripping parallel narrative of the final days of his people is a prelude to a sinister rendezvous, where the author draws past and present together in an gripping climax.


“Major tells both stories with his usual restrained brilliance and sensitivity… a technical masterpiece.”  Journal of Reading

“Major is a master. The reader is shaken, bewildered, dangled in the air, yet ultimately pensive, thoughtful and questioning. … not just a book for young readers. In more ways than one, Kevin Major succeeds in making history come alive.”  Newfoundland Herald

“Two parallel stories unfold tragically in this outstanding novel. … Both stories are affecting and skillfully written in different styles; taken together, they give the book an unexpected dimension that is as unusual as it is provocative.”  Publishers Weekly


Canadian Library Association Book-of-the-Year
Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction

Author’s Comments

Blood Red Ochre, my fifth young adult novel, was the first to be placed on the novel study list for schools in my own province. It has remained there ever since, and I am very pleased to know that young people both here and across Canada still find it interesting. They are often frustrated by the ending, true enough. But as I tell students when I visit classes who have read the novel, my aim was to leave readers with the feeling that the spirit of the Beothuk people still permeates our land.

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