Friday, 20 October 2017

Book Review: OURS IS THE WINTER by Laurie Ellingham

Author: Laurie Ellingham
HQ Digital
October 2017
Expected publication: 17 November 2017
My Rating: 🌟🌟


Book Description (Goodreads):

Journeying across the Arctic, their pasts are about to catch up with them. 

Erica, Molly and Noah are embarking on the challenge of a lifetime, driving Siberian huskies across the frozen wilderness of the Arctic. Cut off from the world and their loved ones and thrown together under gruelling conditions, it isn’t long before the cracks start to show.

Erica has it all. A loving husband, a successful career and the most adorable baby daughter. But Erica has been living a double life, and as she nears her fortieth birthday her lies threaten to come crashing down.

Molly was on her way to stardom. But when her brother died, so did her dreams of becoming an Olympic champion. Consumed by rage and grief, she has shut out everyone around her, but now she’s about to learn that comfort can come from the most unexpected places.

Noah has a darkness inside him and is hounded by nightmares from his past. Tortured, trapped and struggling to save his fractured relationship, he knows this journey is not going to help, but try telling his girlfriend that.

As their lives and lies become ever more entwined, it becomes clear that in the frozen wilds there is nowhere to hide. 

My musings:

To be honest, this book wasn’t at all what I was expecting, and I will probably be very unpopular when I say that I was majorly disappointed with it! I was initially drawn to the beautiful cover and the premise of a tense survival story in a merciless remote setting, where personalities clash and tension simmers. Unfortunately it was none of that. True, we do have a remote setting, and I loved the interesting facts about huskies and mushing, which I knew very little about. I also enjoyed the descriptions of the snow covered landscape and the rock where the boundaries of three countries come together. However – here it comes:

I didn’t like any of the characters – sorry! How old were these people? For the best part of the book they act like hormonal teenagers, sulking, being snippy to each other and storming off in a huff not talking to each other, and then – SPOILER ALERT – it suddenly all gets resolved in one happily ever after moment that was so far fetched for me that I wanted to throw the book and get back the time I had invested in it. All the affirmations and positive thinking in the world is not going to get you a bow-tied ending like this, where all the threads come together so perfectly. At times the book felt preachy to me, as if it was trying to give lifestyle advice, when the angry hormonal characters reflected on some deeper level and had some insights into life and its mysterious ways. And the romance – no, just no. In fact, the whole situation these people found themselves in was based on an action by one of the characters that was so immature and far-fetched that it seemed like a looooong stretch for me to be even remotely credible. Phew, I had to get that off my chest!

Personally, I think that a great opportunity was lost here. With a setting that provided an excellent opportunity for some simmering tension and an undercurrent of menace and danger that kept the reader engaged, and the opportunity to create real drama, the author focused instead on some stereotypical elements that did not live up to my hopes for the tense story of survival I had hoped for. None of the characters rang true for me, and the primary emotion when reading was irritation. I wanted to slap each and every one of them and tell them to “grow up”! I concede that I probably set my expectations too high and was just the wrong audience for this book. For me, this was definitely NOT a thriller, or a mystery. I am sure that other readers will enjoy it, even if just for the gorgeous huskies and the unusual setting. Unfortunately not a good fit for me – life’s like that. I may now go into my corner and sulk. 

 Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the free electronic copy of this novel and for giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review.

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