‘What you could change and alter could never be finished or complete or dead. This is what I had been told back then, and what I had tried very hard to believe in since.”

In Hummingbird, award-winning author Tristan Hughes has braved the Canadian wilderness: familiarising the landscape of his youth in a poetic coming-of-age story about death, life, and the changes they bring.


Fifteen-year-old Zachary Taylor and his father are living in a cabin on Sitting Down Lake, having moved there from the small town of Crooked Elbow in northern Ontario after the death of Zack’s mother. Besides his absent-minded father and his neighbours – the usually drunk Oskar, the secretly messy Mrs Schneider, her recently divorced daughter Judith, and the taciturn Lamar – all Zach has for company is the moody, transient landscape, which holds both beauty and terror in its depths and whispers with the promise of dark, secret spaces and undiscovered worlds.

Things are shaken up by the arrival of Lamar’s mysterious niece, Eva, who has come to see the location where her parents died in a plane crash not far from the lake. While trying to navigate between the different worlds of summer and winter, the living and the dead, and the past and the present, Zack and Eva grow closer.

The people of Sitting Down Lake will have to rely on each other to come to terms with the past to realise that death is never final: something always remains afterwards.