Wednesday, 22 December 2010
Graham Joyce, The Silent Land (2010)
Graham is a friend of mine, so I can't pretend this is a wholly disinterested review; but were this short novel written by my worst enemy I'd have to concede how perfectly judged, in terms of tone and mood, it is. Young lovers Zoe and Jake are on a skiing holiday in the Alps when they are caught in an avalanche; they survive, but returning to the resort they find it eerily empty, not a soul about. It's not really a spoiler (because the reader twigs this early in the reading) that they've stumbled into a ghost story -- that this novel is more The Others than Ski Sunday -- except that one of the beautiful touches of The Silent Land is the slow-burning realisation the book cultivates that it's not about death, but life ('Zoe', the name of the main character, means life, of course). The back of my ARC notes that the film rights have already been sold, and if the film-makers can reproduce the beautifully judged, uncanny chill of this atmospheric novel, it will be a very notable film indeed.