Book five of the 48-hour Book Challenge binge. This one’s an autographed copy, mwaha. (Nicole is in my wife’s writing group in Edmonton, and a pretty awesome lady.)
Johnny Van Der Zee understand his girlfriend Kathy’s dedication. She wants to be a fighter pilot. He wants to be in the NHL. This isn’t as far off as it sounds–Johnny’s the star of his league in Iqualuit, and Kathy’s dad is in the Air Force, so she knows what it will take. Johnny’s lived up north for years, and is not just popular, but athletic and capable. So no-one can understand how he managed to flip his uncle’s snowmobile while Kathy was riding with him. It was a close call, but the only casualty was the snowmobile. Now Johnny’s uncle has pulled him out of hockey for the season as punishment and everyone expects him to be devastated.
But Johnny doesn’t seem to care. He knows that everything he loves is taken away from him by the mysterious, ancient evil that claimed him years ago. Johnny calls it Frost. Whatever it is, it’s a creature of killing cold and silent, barren places. Now Johnny’s trying to drive away everyone and everything he loves before Frost can take it from him, whether it’s his family, girlfriend, or even hockey. As Johnny becomes more manic and uncaring, his friends and family start to worry, and his ex-girlfriend Cheryl, no stranger to tragedy herself after The Year of Three Funerals, starts to put the pieces together. Meanwhile, Johnny is coming to the conclusion that Frost has some very definite plans for him, and the rest of the world. Nuclear-winter type plans.
This reminded me of Graham McNamee’s Bonechiller–but not in a derivative way, more as if two different writers both hit on the same plot elements, and put together two unrelated stories. This particular story is awesome for a variety of reasons. The plot starts off with a slight sense of unease and gradually ratchets up the tension and reveals what has come before and how it’s made the characters who they are. The characters themselves are all clearly-defined individuals–and excellent strong female characters! Like Cheryl, who survived the loss of her entire immediate family and found herself again through her grandfather’s Inuit traditions. Or Kathy, who knows exactly what she wants to do and is willing to put in every bit of hard work she can to get it. There’s a very strong sense of place, and yay for a realistic, respectful yet not sugar-coated look (to the best of my knowledge) at modern Inuit people. Also, it’s quite the creepy, well-put-together story.
One thing’s for sure, you’ll never listen to another Christmas carol about Jack Frost in quite the same way again…