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Book Review: Immortal North by Tom Stewart

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I received this book from the author in exchange for a fair review. While not an apocalyptic, dystopian, or post-apocalyptic novel, I believe it is right up the alley of our survivalists and preppers out there! 

A novel as heartbreaking as it is immersive, Immortal North is a visceral, raw story that will sit with you for a long time. 

This book blew me away. It’s perfect if you love survivalism stories, novels set in Northern Canada, and the show Alone (check out my reviews of Season 9 every Monday).

He’s known as the trapper and his family has a long history in these isolated woods. Now it’s just him and the boy, and he’ll raise him in the world he knows, the forest, where threats take recognizable forms: harsh weather, peak predators, the encroachment of civilization at odds with their lifestyle. But for those lands and minds with an unsettled past, other dangers may lurk the woods where father and son hunt the timber. One fateful day their woodland life is violently broken—shouldn’t those guilty of such injustice be held to account? Though at times gritty even violent, there is raw grace in these pages like veins of gold running through black quartz.

A tale told in captivating prose of wild living, where human skin is no boundary for
either the beauty or cruelty of nature. A book studded with reflective wonder, wholly a story of the profound bonds of human love. The big woods of the Far North in all its naked majesty become an arena for the dueling forces of life: joy and suffering, good and evil, compassion and vengeance. Though the forest is isolated, this may be a story of the wilderness existing within us all. A story that won’t easily be forgotten as there is something enduring here. Immortal North.

Review

This book is achingly beautiful. I will go so far as to compare it to Hemingway and Cormac McCarthy, not just in the highly descriptive style that both keeps you both at a distance and brings you deep into the character’s psyches, but the harshness of the situation. While not a book that is gory or even that violent, it’s a book fraught with tension from the opening lines. You read the entire thing with your heart in your throat. Even though you can guess what is going to happen, this doesn’t make it any less of a shock. In fact, the ominous tone of the novel is so pervasive the tension is as tight as a bowstring (hunting joke). 

I rarely cry while reading books, but I cried twice in this novel. Not just a sniffle, but I had tears running down my cheeks. It’s such a raw novel that forces you to feel the emotions of the characters keenly. 

It also has so many intricate and realistic details about surviving off the grid. The trapper and the boy (they don’t have names, which reminded me a lot of The Road—it also shares the same bleakness of tone) spend the first three-quarters of the novel living their usual life in the wilderness. This is interspersed with memories the trapper has of his deceased wife and his experiences growing up. As such, it falls into a semi-stream of consciousness style while also remaining firmly rooted in the wilderness. You intimately understand what their life is like—both the challenges and the rewards. 

The novel is full of descriptions of the beauty of nature, of hunting, of animals being field dressed, and shows the positive aspects of ethical hunting. It also breaches the topic of toxic masculinity in hunting (which I thought was excellent).  

The novel, for lack of a better word, is deep. It’s honestly the closest thing I’ve read to Hemingway in a modern novel. I absolutely loved it. It’s an amazing piece of literature and I can’t thank the publisher/author enough for the gratis copy. That ending … whew!

I highly recommend it to anyone who has an interest in survivalism, enjoys stories of isolation, likes to have their heart shattered into a million pieces, and those who have love in their heart for the outdoors and the North. 

 

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T. S. Beier is obsessed with science fiction, the ruins of industry, and Fallout. She is the author of What Branches Grow, a post-apocalyptic novel (which was a Top 5 Finalist in the 2020 Kindle Book Awards and a semi-finalist in Hugh Howey's 2021 Self-Published Science Fiction Competition) and the Burnt Ship Trilogy (space opera). She is a book reviewer, editor, freelance writer, and co-owner of Rising Action Publishing Co. She currently lives in Ontario, Canada with her husband, two feral children, and a Shepherd-Mastiff.

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