“Nothing could be more heart rending than this mute and motionless dispair” – ― Émile Zola, Thérèse Raquin

“She was a genius of sadness, immersing herself in it, separating its numerous strands, appreciating its subtle nuances. She was a prism through which sadness could be divided into its infinite spectrum.” ― Jonathan Safran Foer, Everything Is Illuminated

Despair. Horrible, gut wrenching, soul destroying despair. Nina Granville’s life has become a hell on earth unlike any most ‘normal’ people could ever understand. Fear so deep her bones ache with it. Because Nina is a captive. A captive of a monster in a land where ice, snow, and death are balanced on the head of a pin. Where the wrong breath, the wrong move, can mean immediate, or long, drawn-out death.

Captured and held in the wilds of Alaska by a sadistic monster, Nina is doing everything she can to survive, but the brutality is nearly unbearable, the psychological terror breathtaking. Nina is, very literally, in hell. A frozen hell, buried in ice and snow. Repeatedly raped, beaten and terrorized, she has little reason to continue living.

“There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run Cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGree.

The same poem. Over. And Over. And Over. The repetitive dirge, of a madman. No hope. No hope. . .

Until she finds Elese Martin. Or at least, Elese’s journal. Elise – the madman’s last victim. Elise suffered as Nina does now. The beatings. The rapes. The terror. Elise, who was held on for years. Who had, and lost, a child by the monster. Who made a plan.

Now, Nina needs to plan. To plan, to hope.

This book was, literally, heart wrenching. Alan Russell literally broke my heart with his writing. Nina’s pain, her struggle, was written so well I felt it. The story is incredibly well-written, well-paced and the characters and landscape feel so very real I could almost smell the smoke, the cold, the forests of Alaska. There are so many layers in the book, layers that I fell through as if through water, sinking into blackness.

It is an important story, an important book, with strength and depth. I can’t recommend it highly enough, but be ready to feel Nina’s and Elise’s pain, their desperation and despair. It is breathtaking, twisted, and amazing.

I received A Cold War from the publisher in an uncorrected proof. All thoughts are my own, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Strap in for the ride of your life.

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