A nimble debut novel featuring a magical Niche and a motley cast of neighbourhood misfits.
When fifteen-year-old Mutton is robbed at gunpoint while working in her mother’s Hamilton thrift store, the thief makes off with an item that Mutton knows isn’t meant for him, hurling her and her family into a summer of remarkable and heartbreaking events. From fighting unscrupulous developers to first loves to the anguish that comes from never knowing what your final words to a loved one might be, Saints, Unexpected reminds us of the magic that comes with each opportunity to begin again.
Brent van Staalduinen lives, works, and writes in Hamilton, Ontario. He is the recipient of both the 2015 Bristol Short Story Prize and the 2015 Short Works Prize, his work appears in The Sycamore Review, The Bristol Prize Short Story Anthology 8, EVENT Magazine, The Dalhousie Review, The New Quarterly, and The New Guard Literary Review. A graduate of the Humber School of Writers, he also holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia and teaches writing at Redeemer University College.
“Van Staalduinen has crafted a warm-hearted novel that succeeds both as an empathetic portrait of a fictional family and as a stirring tribute to the real-life city in which their story is set.” — The Banner
“A story filled with first loves, a frayed family, and charming, unforgettable characters.” — Hamilton Magazine
“A good coming-of-age novel can force us to open up about those years and come to terms about our experiences. And one such novel that can help us relate to those years is Brent van Staalduinen’s Saints, Unexpected.” — The Library of Pacific Tranquility
“If viewed as Young Adult Fiction, I consider Brent van Staalduinen’s debut novel a success.” — Broken Pencil
“This small gem of a novel will stay with you long after you finish reading. It’s a mystery, a love story, a family drama, and it has just enough magic to keep you hooked to the last page.” — Annabel Lyon, The Sweet Girl
“Saints, Unexpected is not only a masterful evocation of the simple complexities of family life, it’s also a moving tribute to a city and to those who have struggled to save it. Brent van Staalduinen has a sure eye and a powerful voice.” — Wayne Grady, author of Emancipation Day
“The streets of downtown Hamilton provide a brawny setting for this unflinching, yet tender novel. In its portrayal of characters who endure unforeseen tragedy to achieve hard-won consolation, Saints, Unexpected affirms the ennobling power of love.” — Hugh Cook, Heron River
“The details of Hamilton’s downtown core are as delicate and unforgettable as his characters themselves—this is a novel filled with hope, both as gritty and as gentle as the city it explores.” — Amanda Leduc, The Miracles of Ordinary Men
“Saints, Unexpected is a glimpse into the magical quality of everyday life. Brent van Staalduinen creates an ordinary world and tinges it with the kind of mysticism that I think we’d all like to imagine infuses our lives.” — James Leck, The Adventures of Jack Lime