Monday, June 17, 2019

The Wolves of Winter: Tyrell Johnson


The Wolves of Winter is an apocalyptic novel, and the Canadian setting made it the perfect choice for me. The story has a relatively small number of characters. A family group has moved from Alaska further north into the Canadian Yukon to live after nuclear war and a deadly flu have killed a large portion of the population on earth. Other than one other man who settled near them, they haven't encountered any other humans for years, and then they meet a lone male traveler and a small group of traders.

The family consists of Gwendolyn (or Lynn, as she prefers to be called), her mother and brother, her uncle  and a young man whose father died. Lynn was 16 when they left Alaska, but had been taught hunting and wilderness skills by her father when she was younger. The story starts seven years later. The group survives by hunting and planting what crops will survive. It is a very basic existence, and mostly very cold.


None of the main characters are perfect, they all have their flaws. The most well defined character is Lynn, who tells the story, but we get to know most of the family group pretty well, understanding their motivations. By no means is this a crime story, but there are evil, manipulative characters and it has thrillerish elements. Also there is the element of mystery–pieces of Lynn's background that have been kept from her. So the story was just my type of reading.

The pacing of the story kept me interested, and I enjoyed the descriptions of what the people had to do to survive in that environment. The first quarter of the book is more about setting the background of the story, how the wars and the disease started. I loved Lynn's lists of what was different, what she missed, what she did not miss. The remainder of the book is about learning more about the world outside of the family's small settlement, and is full of action.

Some reviewers compared this novel to YA novels. I don't read many YA novels so can't speak to that, but it did not seem to be aimed at a younger audience to me. And if it was, I still enjoyed it. This is Tyrell Johnson's debut novel. I am hoping the author has another book coming out soon.

Part I of the book begins with this Walt Whitman quote.
"I have heard what the talkers were talking,
the talk of the beginning and the end,
But I do not talk of the beginning or the end.
There was never any more inception than there is now,
Nor any more youth or age than there is now,
And will never be any more perfection than there is now,
Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now."
I found this book via Judith's blog, Reader in the Wilderness. Her review is here.


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Publisher:   Scribner, 2018.
Length:      310 pages
Format:      Trade paperback
Setting:      Canadian Yukon
Genre:        Science Fiction, Post-apocalyptic
Source:      I purchased my copy.

12 comments:

  1. I like the sound of this one. And I often read 'cold' books in our hot summers. Putting it on my list to look for at the library. Thanks!

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    1. This is the book that got me interested in reading City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong, Kay. Because of the setting and I remembered you had good things to say about Armstrong.

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  2. I'll pass. post-apocalyptic threat novels just aren't my thing.

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    1. I have been reading a lot of post-apocalyptic novels, lately, Rick. I just finished Station 11 by Emily St. John Mandel. Can't say exactly what it is that I like because they are all different.

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  3. Looks great. I'll keep an eye out for this. Thanks for the headsup!

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    1. I don't usually read new books so soon after publication, John, but I liked the type of story and the setting, so I took a chance.

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  4. This does sound good, Tracy. I know exactly what you mean about the setting, too. Some settings are just right for a given story. Glad you liked it.

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    1. The setting, and the lack of amenities and food, etc. is not something I would enjoy in real life, Margot, but I do like to read about it.

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    1. It is interesting how many people don't care for that subgenre, Col. I enjoy the various takes on the topic.

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  6. Mmm - I'm sure it's a good book, but it's not taking my fancy, like some of your other commentators.

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    1. For some reason I like reading about people living in cold, hazardous conditions, Moira, although I hate cold weather and have never lived anywhere at all cold. I recently saw another book set in the Yukon that I want to try.

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