My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Read for post-apocalyptic book club. (My selection, but then events happened and I couldn’t make it to the meeting. Mea culpa!) I liked it, but I just hope others did as well!
Now, I did like this book, very much. And I picked it up because it was advertised as a post-apocalyptic selection. BUT. This story is really a Western. There is nothing at all about it that requires a post-apocalyptic setting, and much as I love the genre, I felt that the efforts to fit the story into a presumably-future disaster scenario were a little distracting and unnecessary. It would’ve been fine in the Old West, 19th-century Canada, or maybe even present-day rural Appalachia.
Elka is a young girl who’s been raised by her grandmother after her parents set out to find their fortune in gold mining, and never returned for their daughter. One day, after a terrible storm, she’s lost in the woods. Starved and tired, when she comes across a remote cabin she’s lured by the strips of jerky set out to dry outside the homestead. The man who lives there promises to find her grandmother and take her home. But then, “Trapper” tells her that her grandmother was killed in the storm. He takes Elka in, gives her her name, teaches her the ways of wilderness survival – and in return, Elka bestows upon him all the affection she has in her abandoned heart, regarding him as her father.
But now, there’s a new sheriff in town. And she says that Trapper is Public Enemy #1, wanted for terrible, horrific crimes. Magistrate Lyon’s quest for justice (or is it just vengeance?) sets Elka on a desperate journey north, accompanied by a young woman who could not be more different from her, trying both to escape the long arm of the law, and to find her parents.
I thought the journey that the book takes the reader on was extremely well-crafted, as the secrets that Elka has hidden even from herself are gradually revealed.
Many thanks to Crown Publishing and LibraryThing for the advance copy of the book! As always, my opinions are solely my own.