Reviews for Silent Land

Kirkus Reviews 2010 December #2

Two young lovers find themselves utterly alone after a skiing accident in the French Alps.

Best known in his native England for erudite fantasy, Joyce (How to Make Friends with Demons, 2009, etc.) spins a story of devotion that is equal parts romance and nightmare. It begins, appropriately enough, in the bitter cold of the mountains near Chamonix, France, and the chill never really goes away throughout the course of the novel. A British married couple, Jake and Zoe, are enjoying the thrills and arresting scenery of one of the world's great ski runs. "If there are few moments in life that come as clear and as pure as ice, when the mountain breathed back at her, Zoe knew she had trapped one such moment and it could never be taken away," Joyce writes. "Everywhere was snow and silence. Snow and silence; the complete arrest of life; a rehearsal for and a pre-echo of death." It's a crucial moment in Zoe's life—perhaps the most important of her entire life, as half the mountain soon comes hurtling down upon them both. Fortunately, Zoe is trapped in a lucky pocket of air and Jake manages to free her from her precarious position upside-down. But as the two lovers make their way back to civilization, they're startled to find that they seem to be the only ones left. All other human beings seem to have been evacuated, and no forms of communication work. The absence of company isn't the only odd occurrence, either. As the mountain threatens to bury them once more, the lovers enter a fascinating dialogue about what lies between them. "If there is any sense to marriage at all, it's so that I take your thorns and you sometimes take mine," says Jake.

An affecting story of soul mates and the elements that bind them together.

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Library Journal Reviews 2011 January #1

Tragedy threatens Zoe and Jake on a ski holiday in the Pyrenees when they are buried in an avalanche. Against all odds, they free themselves from the snow and make it back down the mountain to the safety of their hotel. Once there, they are left with many questions. There are no people in the hotel or town, and something seems to be preventing them from leaving on their own. Alternating between waiting for help and trying to find a way out, Zoe and Jack have the run of their abandoned town. But time seems to be moving more slowly than it should; food does not spoil, and candles do not melt. This latest tale of supernatural suspense by O. Henry Award and British Fantasy Award winner Joyce (How To Make Friends with Demons; The Tooth Fairy) will keep the reader intrigued. Its slow pace and beautiful prose build to a clever apex. VERDICT Fans of the supernatural will enjoy this original love story.--Amanda Scott, Cambridge Springs P.L., PA

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2011 January #4

Near the outset of this gently haunting fantasy thriller from British author Joyce (Requiem), a freak avalanche buries Zoe and Jake, a couple on a skiing holiday near the Pyrenean resort town of Saint-Bernard-en-Haut. After digging out, they find themselves the only inhabitants of the unnaturally silent landscape. Back at their hotel, they discover they're still alone. All their efforts to leave for the next town only bring them back in a circle. Jake suspects that they've died--but then Zoe begins seeing furtive figures and hearing snatches of speech that suggest this likely explanation is more complex than it seems. Joyce brings freshness to this familiar supernatural scenario by emphasizing the humanness of his characters over the weirdness of the phenomena. By the time the tale sounds its final bittersweet note, readers will remember the passionate emotional bond the two have shared and self-sacrifices that are the hallmark of a love that can transcend death. (Mar.)

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