The Wolves of Winter by Tyrell Johnson
Published by HQ Fiction
A captivating tale of humanity pushed beyond its breaking point, of family and bonds of love forged when everything is lost, and of a heroic young woman who crosses a frozen landscape to find her destiny. This debut novel is written in a post-apocalyptic tradition that spans The Hunger Games and Station Eleven but blazes its own distinctive path.
Forget the old days. Forget summer. Forget warmth. Forget anything that doesn’t help you survive in the endless white wilderness beyond the edges of a fallen world.
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 been forced to forge ahead in the snow-drifted Canadian Yukon, learning how to hunt and trap and slaughter.
But her fragile existence is about to be shattered. 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.
Simultaneously a heartbreakingly sympathetic portrait of a young woman searching for the answer to who she is meant to be and a frightening vision of a merciless new world in which desperation rules, The Wolves of Winter is enveloping, propulsive, and poignant.
I absolutely loved this book. The Wolves Of Winter is set in a world where a ‘flu type epidemic’ has killed off the majority of the population, and those that have survived must now continue to battle on in order to exist. Where up in the snowy ranges of Canada we find Lynn and in the surviving members of her family. The ‘comfortable’ day to day routine becomes disrupted when Lynn happens across a lone man and his dog one day. Bus is Jax all he seems and what secrets does he harbour?
I am really struggling to make this review non-biased but I can’t. So listen to me gush…
I loved the snowy setting, I think it set this book apart from others of its type. Me being a HUGE post-apocalyptic/dystopia fan it was a refreshing change from the derelict city scapes where we usually find ourselves.
I really enjoyed the introduction of Jax to their hardy and enclosed family unit. It shifted the McBrides’ little world and I loved seeing how they handled a stranger in camp.
The development of Lynn was both empowering and touching. She began the story a stubborn teenage and ended the story a woman on a mission to literally save the world.
The adventures we were taken on were gut wrenching and fast paced, which were a great contrast to the slower paced camp life that we saw.
Let me set something straight… this is not a love story in anyway, shape or form. Which is great for me… I hate love stories. But my favourite aspect was Jax and Lynn. I loved the difference between Jax’s free-spirt and wandering nature, against Lynn’s uptight, stubbornness.
The ending was perfect. I love where we left it and the possibilities of adventure that Lynn and Jax are now embarking on. I think about them regularly.
My downside would be…. I would of loved it to be longer. So much happens in 300ish pages, I fell that some of the scenes could be fleshed out more, but that’s just typical for greedy ole me.
More importantly… will there be a second book??
– Part I –
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.
The trap was empty and the snow was bloody, which meant one of three things.
One: The animal had gotten itself loose, making a mess in the process. Unlikely. Too much blood.
Two: Wolves had gotten to it and somehow managed to drag the carcass out of the trap. Even more unlikely. Not enough blood. Or hair. Besides, their tracks would have been obvious.
Three: Conrad had poached my kill.
Thieving, asshole Conrad. Not only likely but, based on the boot prints and snakelike trails that his sled made through the bloody Rorschach marks in the snow, it was the only option. It had snowed early that morning, maybe an hour before the sun crested the hills. A thin dusting had already settled over his prints. He got up early, you had to give Conrad that much. Stealing didn’t seem like him, though. He was an ass, no doubt about it, but a thief?
The animal’s prints were teardrops, scattered about the bloody mush of snow. Teardrops meant deer. And by the size of the prints, it was a buck. My wire had been snipped too. I’d placed it between two pine trees in a small ravine. The logjams on either side were a bitch to set up, but they herded the animals into the trap. I took the broken wire between my gloved fingers. You know how rare wire was nowadays? I could repair it, but it wouldn’t hold as strong. I was always careful to remove the wire by unthreading it from the tree and the animal so that I could use it again. I was pissed.
I adjusted my compound bow under my arm and the rope over my left shoulder. The rope was attached to my sled. My uncle Jeryl—Dad’s brother—had made the sled for me four years earlier. About three feet wide, six feet long. It carried small game no problem, a deer was tough for me but manageable, and an elk, caribou, or moose I had to butcher first and carry just the meat. The sled was made of spruce and had bloodstains from past kills splattered about the wood, but it was sturdy. I always dragged it along with me to check the traps.
A slight easterly wind stung my nose and cracked lips. The sun was gray and bored in the hazy sky, but the fresh fallen snow was still blinding. Sunglasses. I missed sunglasses. I headed southeast, into the wind. It was less than a mile to Conrad’s place. Dragging the sled made it tough going, but I didn’t care. No way in hell I was going to let him keep my kill. He was a big man, though, and he was stronger than me.
Somewhere, a gray jay woke and started chattering. The wind blew a dusting of snow from the ground that billowed like smoke in the chill morning air, and the sun, not giving a shit about my deer, was probably already contemplating its early descent.
I was sixteen when we left Eagle, Alaska. When things got bad, when everyone seemed to be leaving, we up and left too. We headed into the Yukon Territory. To the trees, hills, mountains, valleys, rivers, snow, snow, snow, snow, snow. The vast wilderness of nothing. But for the next seven years, that nothing became home. I got used to it. The whiteness a comfort, the pine trees a refuge, the silence of it a friend I never knew I needed or wanted.
Being twenty-three now, looking back on my sixteen-year-old self, Alaska feels like a different world. Or a dream. Where people had jobs, hobbies, possessions, friends, and things like ovens, TV, cereal, toasters, pizza. But what made that life real for me was Dad. His death didn’t feel like a lifetime ago. I carried him with me everywhere I went.
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