The Wolves of Winter by Tyrell Johnson
Book of the Month
Lynn McBride has learned much since society collapsed in the face of nuclear war and the relentless spread of disease. As the memories of her old life continue to haunt, she’s forced to forge ahead in the snow-drifted Canadian Yukon, learning how to hunt and trap and slaughter. Shadows of the world before have found her tiny community - most prominently in the enigmatic figure of Jax, who brings with him dark secrets of the past and sets in motion a chain of events that will call Lynn to a role she never imagined.
On the surface, this post-apocalyptic tale of infection, nuclear fallout and scattered, savage humanity is no different from the many others that have gone before it. But what saves it from being just another drop in the great maelstrom of dystopian novels is the author’s taught and affecting storytelling of one girl’s struggle to come to terms with her place in an uncertain new world.
Told vividly through flashbacks, Johnson’s set-up is unveiled through the story’s narrator and protagonist Lynn, a 23 year-old living in wooden shacks with her family in the blisteringly cold Yukon.
One of the novel’s strengths is how human Johnson’s lead feels. Lynn’s thoughts are real and relatable; her flashbacks fascinating and heartbreaking in equal measure as she processes the loss of her beloved father. Her grief is well positioned, binding the story together and giving it a warm heart beneath an often bleak body.
Johnson smartly equips his lead with Katniss Everdeen-levels of survival and defence skills (her designated weapon, a bow rather than gun, is justified through her brother’s casual sexism) so there’s no need continually justify her presence in his harshest of environments.
‘Immunity’, the organisation ostensibly trying to cure the killer flu rumoured to have been released by the US in China to retaliate after their nuclear attack, plagues the survivors. Wrapped in conspiracy, mystery and aggression, it provides the driving force for the action and adventure, feeding into a very believable scenario that is all too poignant in today’s climate.
Wolves of Winter is a beautiful, touching and satisfyingly succinct read with a lot to say. The author’s story-telling is captivating; balancing grief, adventure, heart and curiosity within a wonderfully sculpted and realistic world.
This The Wolves of Winter book review was written by Alice Wybrew
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