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.)
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
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.
…brave and…heartbreaking…In its melding of the bizarre and the personal, this tour de force invites comparison to the work of Haruki Murakami and Ian McEwan…Few times while reading fiction have I been so overcome by how remembering the past and living in the moment combine to form the core of our existence. In The Silent Landa classic in the makingJoyce's great and abiding gift is to make the reader feel this truth fiercely and protectively.
The Washington Post
[Joyce] belongs to a loose school of science fiction and fantasy humanists whose books bear jackets and typefaces designed to attract non-genre readers and whose numbers include Geoff Ryman and Jonathan Carroll and, from a slightly older generation, two of the finest, most artful writers I know: Walter Tevis and Peter S. Beagle. Like them, Joyce is attentive to the subtleties of his characters' experience, their reflex memories, their tides of feeling and, particularly in this novel, to the landscape, the weather and the heavens, often to lovely effect…
The New York Times
“Brave and ultimately heartbreaking. . . . A classic in the making.” —The Washington Post
“I won’t bother saying Graham Joyce deserves to find a wide audience in America; rather, I think the American audience deserves to discover him.” —Jonathan Lethem
“Graham Joyce’s near-perfect novella of near-death experience, isolation, and winter cold is a tour de force. . . . A study in classic supernatural fiction.” —The Independent (London)
“Stark, layered, ominous and . . . appealing.” —The New York Times
“Joyce’s crisp prose, transparent as ice crystals, is the perfect medium for Jake and Zoe's tale. Emotion-laden yet unsentimental, unflinchingly attuned to the fluencies of love, The Silent Land brings us to the brink of death and gives a glimpse of the unfathomable beauty lying beyond.” —The Seattle Times
“As engaging as a twisted fireside yarn and paced almost as quickly.” —Los Angeles Times
“Mesmerizing. . . . This is a lean, philosophically sophisticated book, and Joyce’s ability to slip into its short length heady meditations on love, death, and the state of contemporary society is a measure of his craftiness.” —Richmond Times-Dispatch
“[An] eerie, wintry fable. . . . Delivers a chilling thrill. . . . Perfect for a Sunday afternoon as the dusk begins to fall.” —The Scotsman
“A book as crisp as new snow. . . . Compelling. . . . You’ll laugh, albeit nervously; you’ll cry, unless you’re completely heartless; you’ll give your nearest and dearest hugs without really being able to explain why you’re so glad to see them—really, what more do you want from a novel?” —SFX.com
“I became a rabidly devoted fan of Graham Joyce’s the first time I read is work.” —Peter Straub
“[Graham Joyce] is one of those writers who make traditional literary distinctions–horror versus fantasy, genre versus mainstream–seem not only trivial, but irrelevant as well. . . . The Silent Land is one of his most dreamlike, emotionally resonant creations to date. . . . A suspenseful, otherworldly adventure and a metaphysical love story as real and affecting as anything you’re likely to encounter in contemporary fiction.” —Subterranean Press
“How fully Joyce re-creates the eerie border country that Jake refers to as ‘the seams between life and death.’. . . The Silent Land suggests that the ultimate question is whether we can wake up from our comfortably numb state before it’s too late.” —Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
“Joyce is skilled at delineating the fracture lines of relationships, and sets up the Bennetts’ claustrophobic confinement in minute detail, showing how their love for each other withstands and overcomes the growing mystery of their circumstances. . . . Moving.” —The Guardian (London)
“Joyce paints a tapestry of intrigue and Hitchcock-like suspense, sort of a cross between Stephen King’s The Langoliers and The Twilight Zone. . . . Phenomenal.” —Bookreporter
“Anyone who isn’t reading Graham Joyce is doing themselves a huge disservice. No matter what kind of story he takes on, his work immediately becomes the standard to which all others have to be compared.” —Charles de Lint