by Graham Joyce
A British couple in their 30s is on a ski trip in the Pyrenees when they are caught off-guard by an avalanche. Zoe and Jake's harrowing experience leaves them stunned and they return to the small village where they are staying shaken but grateful to have survived. When they arrive they find the whole place deserted.
Their reactions follow a predictable pattern at first. They make excuses as to where everyone is, explore the area, act like kids in a candy shop as they try food and wine in different restaurants, etc. But soon their unease mounts with each passing hour and they start to notice odd details about their surroundings. The novel seems tame at first, but the tension builds beautifully.
There were moments that reminded me of the eerie solitude in “The Shining”. Other times their sweet playfulness felt like a romantic comedy gone horribly wrong. I was completely sucked into the story. I’m glad I read it in the midst of January snow storms. The mood was already set for the chilling story.
Occasionally the writing felt forced and overly descriptive and took me out of the story… “The mist hung in the air like a prancing unicorn.”
Those eye-rolling moments gave me pause, but the overall impact of the book more than made up for it.
Without getting into any spoilers, the book had more depth than I was expecting. It was bittersweet and balanced reflection, fear and love in equal parts.
BOTTOM LINE: Hard to put down. At times the writing felt overly melodramatic but that was my only complaint. A great choice to curl up with when it’s cold outside and you want something a bit unnerving.
*I also just have to say that the hardcover is gorgeous! It has a vellum dust jacket and a stark cover.
"What are we if we're not the sum of our memories?
You're forgetting about what we might become. Isn't that more important?"
"Nurses and soldiers, thought Jake. They see it all, and pretend they've seen nothing."
"Their conversations were all the time shrinking in length but expanding in implication."
"Old habits were falling away. There was no need for privacy and the light now had become a property of value, a thing that traded in the currency of life rather than death. It seemed an affront to want to keep it out, so the curtains stayed open."