• The Melting Queen

The Melting Queen


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978-1-988732-50-3 | 2019 April | 224 Pages


Every year since 1904, when the ice breaks up on the North Saskatchewan River, Edmonton has crowned a Melting Queen—a woman who presides over the Melting Day spring carnival and who must keep the city’s spirits up over the following winter. But this year, something has changed: a genderfluid ex-frat brother called River Runson is named as Melting Queen. As River's reign upends the city's century-old traditions, Edmonton tears itself in two, with progressive and reactionary factions fighting a war for Edmonton's soul. Ultimately, River must uncover the hidden history of Melting Day, forcing Edmonton to confront the dark underbelly of its traditions and leading the city into a new chapter in its history.

Balancing satire with compassion, Bruce Cinnamon’s debut novel combines history and magic to weave a splendid future-looking tale.

  • Second Place in the Prose Category at the 2019 Alcuin Society Awards for Excellence in Book Design in Canada
  • Shortlisted for the Sixth Annual Rakuten Kobo Emerging Writer Prize - Literary Fiction Category
  • Shortlisted for Best Speculative Fiction at the 2020 Alberta Book Publishing Awards
  • Shortlisted for Best Book Design at the 2020 Alberta Book Publishing Awards
  • Edmonton Journal's 2019's Best Local Books
  • Interview on the What's It About podcast 
  • All Lit Up's Pride Reads 
  • Interview with NeWest Press Audio

”From that day forward, Edmonton has never been without a Melting Queen,” says Mary Cone. “She protects us. Nurtures us. Announces when spring has sprung. She’s our eternal mother, our city’s First Lady, and no other city has a woman like her. One hundred and fourteen women have had this honour, from May Winter to Saoirse Beltane, from Organza Grant to Alice Songhua. You can breathe out now,” she adds, and Magpie and all the kids release their pent-up breath in one big burst.

“And who can be the Melting Queen?” gasps Magpie.

“Any girl who wants!” shout the kids.

“That’s right!” says Magpie. “Whether she’s a grandma or a little girl like some of you, any woman can be Named. All she has to do is put a leaf with her name on it on May Winter’s statue.”

She leans coyly toward the kids and raises her exquisitely plucked eyebrows

“Maybe I’ll be the Melting Queen this year,” she says.

“Nooooo!” giggle the kids.

“I can’t be the Melting Queen?” she asks with mock outrage.

“Nooooo!” repeat the kids, loving it.

“Why not?” she pouts.

“Cuz you’re a boy!” some of them shout, and Magpie folds her hands over the front of her dress suggestively, a faux-shocked look on her face.

“Who told?”

The kids laugh and the drag queen ruffles haughtily.

“Well I don’t need to be the Melting Queen to have a great party today and to be thankful to May Winter for starting this tradition! And what’s the most fun thing to do on Melting Day?”

“Dance!” shout the kids, and on cue another song kicks off, the drag queens and the children and their parents all jolting along to its spasmodic beat.

“Happy Melting Day! This naughty love-and-hate letter to an imagined version of Edmonton is fabulous, whether you know every corner of the actual place or you’ve never been there. You will want to live in Cinnamon’s city.”
— Todd Babiak, author of The Garneau Block and The Empress of Idaho

“Set amongst the landmarks and rituals of a magical Edmonton, this fantasia compels the reader to look at our city – and the feminine forces that subtly but firmly guide it—in a new and thrilling way. The newest Melting Queen, whose gender is as fluid as the green summer river that weaves its way through Edmonton’s rigid grid, signifies transformation, rebirth, and reconciliation.”
— Darrin Hagen, author of The Edmonton Queen

“Heartfelt, flawed, and beautiful, The Melting Queen is a modern fairy tale. Cinnamon creates a lost history, writing a legacy for River Runson that honors missing ancestors and gives Edmonton a second chance to confront the truth of its hypocrisy around oppression and expression.”
— Letitia Montgomery-Rodgers, Foreword Reviews

“... a worthy, interesting read based on the essential idea that now is the time to unmask history and change what no longer serves us.”
— Booklist

“The novel, much like its protagonist and, I suspect, many of Edmonton's inhabitants, has an ambivalent relationship to the city it imagines: calling out its failings ... yet insisting on finding and, if necessary, inventing stories that reveal the extraordinary.”
— Jason Wiens, Alberta Views

“Combining history and satire, this debut aims to lay a foundational mythology for Edmonton.”
— Becky Toyne, Globe and Mail

“Bruce Cinnamon doesn't put a foot wrong in The Melting Queen, his fantastical debut novel. In addition to providing humour and a surreal plot, the author examines some serious themes: identity, friendship, betrayal, and politicians creating alternative histories.”
— Margaret Goldik, Prairie Books NOW

“... a captivating coming-of-age story with a clear hero who learns from the wisdom of their predecessors; intriguing villains who turn on the hero; and a surprising mishmash of once underdogs-turned-sidekicks.”
— Rebecca Geleyn, The Fiddlehead

The Melting Queen gives Edmonton the mythological retelling it deserves.”
— Edmonton Journal

“In The Melting Queen, satire works both to poke fun at the boosterism of civic officials and to expose ways in which punitive insistence on the rigidity of gendered, raced, and classed hierarchies is bolstered in the present by a view that sees the past as inherently innocent, as a time of wholesomeness and goodness at odds with the confusing complexity of the present.”
— Alison Calder, Canadian Literature