A panoramic epic, a magnificent piece of storytelling, an unforgettable debut novel.
1867, Canada: as winter tightens its grip on the isolated settlement of Dove River, a man is brutally murdered and a 17-year old boy disappears. Tracks leaving the dead man's cabin head north towards the forest and the tundra beyond. In the wake of such violence, people are drawn to the township - journalists, Hudson's Bay Company men, trappers, traders - but do they want to solve the crime or exploit it?
One-by-one the assembled searchers set out from Dove River, pursuing the tracks across a desolate landscape home only to wild animals, madmen and fugitives, variously seeking a murderer, a son, two sisters missing for 17 years, a Native American culture, and a fortune in stolen furs before the snows settle and cover the tracks of the past for good.
In an astonishingly assured debut, Stef Penney deftly waves adventure, suspense, revelation and humour into a panoramic historical romance, an exhilarating thriller, a keen murder mystery and ultimately, with the sheer scope and quality of her storytelling, one of the books of the year.
Penney's evocation of the frozen lands of northern Canada couldn't ring truer if she'd spent months wandering through the land with nothing but a pack of huskies and a native tracker for company - Guardian
A tense and delicately written thriller - Observer
Unquestionably atmospheric, evocative and eventually rewarding - Independent on Sunday
Within the first fifty pages I was completely in love. It is a testimony to the power of good writing that it can present you with a world that you think you know nothing about, but by the end of [the book] you feel you own it
A remarkable literary debut ... brilliantly assured, subtly written - Scotsman
A suspenseful epic, offering a leitmotif of constant unease ... impressive - Guardian
This subtle and superb novel brings the freezing landscape of the Canadian woods to such vivid life that the landscape itself becomes a strong character within the story - Crimesquad
An absorbing and stylish mystery - Glasgow Herald