Thank you to author Tom Stewart for providing me with a copy of Immortal North in exchange for this honest review.
This is a spoiler free review in the sense that I do not discuss major plot points. However, it is not emotional spoiler free. I will be saying how the book made me feel and that may give you an idea of what kinds of things happen in the book. I would love it if you went in to this book cold and unassuming if you could just take my word for it, then return to this review and let me know if you felt the same.
I read a lot of books so I’ve said this a lot but Immortal North is a once in a lifetime book. Many books can be once in a lifetime books, they’re all unique so they all can stand out. That’s why they’re once in a lifetime.
Immortal North is, in simplest terms, what I wanted The Revenant to be. On the surface it’s a story about a trapper and his son living out in the wilderness together. At its core it’s a raw story of human nature and the full spectrum of emotions that drive all actions. It demonstrates how easily our humanity can tip over into animalistic voracity.
This trapper has lived outside of the city for so long that he has an aura around him the townsfolk cannot understand. They spread wild rumors about him to the point that he has become a mythical legend. His accomplishments are inflated but the real version of events are not to be discounted.
The trapper has been left to care for his son alone since his wife died of an illness. He was unable to get her to the hospital in time and burdens himself with this guilt. He misses her, still loves her, and grieves her nightly. He wants nothing more than to be a good father and raise his son properly. He knows part of that is allowing him to go to school in town but he also fears that society and wants to keep him sheltered.
He agonizes over these decisions, his only goal is to raise a good man. This automatically endeared me to him as the main character. He holds his emotions in silence as the manliest of men do but we get to peak in and see his suffering. At times I felt like an arrow had shot through my heart as I watched him suffer alone. I wish I could have reached into the pages and shown him compassion.
The first half of the book is written in long stylized sentences describing days out hunting and surviving off the land. The style of the writing allows us to feel what it’s like to live without hurry and be able to take things slow to do everything right the first time.
The plot in the first half of the book is sparse, we are merely bearing witness to their lifestyle. When the conflict does begin this makes it all the more jarring. The initial excitement is shocking when juxtaposed against the otherwise quiet landscape. It’s a splotch of red staining the snowy landscape and it only expands.
Author Stewart gives us a master class in intensity and anticipation as he breaks down every detail of a horrific event. We know what’s coming, we hope it doesn’t, we want to skip ahead chapters to get to the part that just tells us already but we are forced to wait. This waiting, this drawing out of moments, amps up the sheer fear of knowing you’re about to witness a tragedy.
After this catalytic event the pacing changes. Everything is suddenly much more urgent. It feels more modern, rushed, and hateful. We go from peace to war, from white to red.
Immortal North ends with its climax. A climax so perfect and so tear drenched in beauty it made my hands shake. My eyes couldn’t read fast enough to catch up to the endless outcomes my mind couldn’t predict fast enough to keep up with the pace of the words in front of me.
The ending offers no relief, it feels like edging on orgasm when your partner suddenly up and leaves you right on the brink. I put down the book tingling, excited, shaking, and begging but so happy that it happened at all.
I cannot recommend Immortal North enough. I have since learned that there will be a sequel and this makes me nervous. A big part of me is yearning for that conclusion, that relief from peaking at a climactic high, but the other part is content to leave it as is. Can Stewart recapture this feeling two books in a row? Will he have two once in a life time books? I’ll keep you posted.
5/5 deer 🦌🦌🦌🦌🦌
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If you like Immortal North you might also like Little, Big
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