The Silent Land
By Graham Joyce
(Anchor, Paperback, 9780307739827, May 2012, 272pp.)
The Short of It:
Compelling, thought provoking yet utterly joyless in its bleakness.
The Rest of It:
While skiing in France, Jake and Zoe, a young married couple on vacation find themselves fighting for their lives when an avalanche strikes. Buried in snow, they somehow make their way off the mountain only to find that the entire village is completely empty. Not a soul in sight anywhere, not even at their hotel. Thinking that everyone else has been evacuated, they decide to get warm, eat some food and then venture out to see what they can find. But what they find is even more puzzling and as the days go on, and things become more confused, they begin to doubt their existence at all.
As Jake and Zoe stumble around their desolate landscape and the minutes begin to pass at an alarming rate, the reader is left to question what has really happened. There are no people, they can’t get through to anyone by phone and what Zoe sees sometimes differs from what Jake sees, which makes their situation even more puzzling. I think I knew early on what had taken place, but I was in denial and pushed it out of my mind. Easy to do when Joyce throws in little tidbits to keep you guessing.
The silent land that Joyce creates is a frightening one. One in which you can’t count on anything to be real or true; one that makes you question everything. It’s filled with doubt and forces you to consider what is really important. Some might say that the plot is a bit obvious, but honestly…even though I sort of knew what the outcome would be, it never affected my reading experience. In fact, I’d go as far as saying that it made the reading experience even more bittersweet for me.
That said, I am so happy to have discovered Joyce. I’ve not read his work before and I see that he has several novels out. Have you read any of his books?
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