Title: The Silent Land
Writer: Graham Joyce
Publishing House: Anchor
Date of Publication: November 1st 2010
Rating: 5 stars
‘’Once I had a dream and in the dream I went to bed and fell asleep and was dreaming. And I knew I was dreaming inside a dream. Do you think it’s like that? Do you?’’
I’ve always thought that the winter landscape mirrored purity, tranquility, beauty. The white of the snow, the complete silence, the moon casting its beams creating a scenery that is otherworldly, almost unnaturally beautiful and mystifying. I feel more at peace with our universe when I find myself in the ‘’white’’ nature up in the mountains, where the coziness of the lodge competes with the primal beauty outside. The feelings that this unique novel by Graham Joyce created in me will be my company there from now on…
Zoe and Jake find themselves trapped when an avalanche comes their way in the French Pyrenees. When they return to the resort, they find it devoid of any human presence. All the objects are there but the hotel and the village seem to have frozen in time. Uninhabited and hostile…The candles don’t burn out, the food remains fresh even though it’s exposed, unprotected in the kitchen. Each time the couple attempts to leave, they find themselves back where they started. And the spiral of event and unexplained phenomena has merely started…
This is one of the most difficult books to review, because even the most innocent commentary may be enough to spoil the end. It is marvelously written, extremely well-composed and consistent from beginning to end. It may be placed under the paranormal genre but it would be wrong to look upon it under this light exclusively. This novel is an exploration of love, togetherness, companionship. The kind of love that is deep,mature and independent. It is also an exploration of the need and instinct to survive, to doubt and fight against what seems invincible, incomprehensible and terminate. All wrapped in a language that is poetic, strong, even razor sharp. Haunting, cold and above all, realistic.
Jake and Zoe are the only characters in this journey and my God, what a company they are! Extremely sympathetic, engaging and realistic. I could connect with them immediately and in their development lies the success and effect of the novel. I could feel their fear, their agony, the deep love for each other, their struggle to hold onto the moment. They were the driving force and in them I found two very memorable characters.
I shall have to leave you here, because I’m getting too close to the slope of spoilers. All I can say is that when you have a fairly unsentimental reader-that is, me:)- and after tons and tons of books, a novel manages to make this reader feel the warmth and the freezing of hearts in equal proportions, then you know that the writer did something right…A definite highlight of my reading year.
‘’But what was a moment? Spindrift on the back of a sunlit wave? A fox’s tail as it disappears through the hedgerow? A meteorite as it flares in the August night sky? Everything is ending or becoming. Zoe didn’t believe you could freeze a moment, or hold on to one.’’