The Silent Land is my first experience with Graham Joyce. Gregor Xane told me to read this book with my face, so when I found it at my local UBS, I snatched it up with extreme prejudice. That doesn’t make any sense, does it? Oh well…
First and foremost, I must comment on how gorgeous the American first edition of this book is. The dust jacket seems to be made out of a durable tissue paper. Look at the cover and imagine that the black letters are written on the book and the gray letters are on the tissue-paper dust jacket. It makes for a fine presentation, and is now one of my favorite shelf decorations. Fortunately, the book itself isn’t half-bad. In fact, it’s more than half-good. Let’s talk about it, shall we?
Despite being horribly predictable, The Silent Land is a beautifully-written novel, even if it is a little simplistic in the realm of prose. Some of the dialogue is overtly cheesy toward the end (every sentence is an exclamation!), and our main character Zoe is quite swoony throughout the book, but Graham Joyce knows how to tug at the heart strings. He can also be creepy as hell when he wants to be. There was a moment in the book where I thought motherfuckin’ Cthulhu was gonna come down from the mountain and swallow Jake and Zoe and everything in existence whole. The noises and atmosphere and emptiness of the world Joyce creates is fantastic. You will get lost here, I guaran-damn-tee it.
I went into The Silent Land thinking it was about two people stuck in an avalanche. I thought we’d bounce back and forth between these two people as they tried to survive such a disaster. Boy, was I wrong. After the first chapter, the avalanche is in the rearview and the book gets really strange. But strange in a good way. Then, around chapter six, I had a theory. And my theory played out to the letter. So yes, unfortunately The Silent Land is godawful predictable early on, but that doesn’t detract from the feels and the goosebumps Joyce was able to garner from me.
In summation: If you think you’d like a two-hour episode of The Twilight Zone, you should dig The Silent Land. It’s eerie, heartfelt, and written in a simplistic style that should be accessible to everyone.
Final Judgment: Surprisingly warm for a book with so much snow in it.