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A young couple are caught in an avalanche during a ski ing holiday in the French Alps They struggle back to the village and find it deserted As the days go by they wait for rescue then try to leave But each time they find themselves back in the village And increasingly they are plagued by visions and dreams

10 thoughts on “The Silent Land

  1. says:

    True silence The freezing of all sounds It wasn’t possible in the modern world to listen to the sound of true silence Perhaps not even in the ancient world either there was wind in the desert insects in the depths of the forest wave activity in the middle of the ocean Nature did not tolerate silence Only death accepted silence and there was silence here In The Silent World Graham Joyce’s eighteenth book and 2011 World Fantasy Award and British Fantasy Award nominee a young couple Zoe and Jake on a skiing holiday in the Pyrenees are caught in an avalanche Jake frees himself and digs Zoe out But when they make their way back to their hotel on the outskirts of Saint Bernard en Haut near the French Spanish border everyone is gone from the slopes from the hotel from the town It does not take long to figure out the main underlying situation here The author certainly offers plenty of clues Thankfully the characters in the story realize it as well in short order and the rest is figuring out the details the significance of the sundry events that occur the meaning of symbols that appear the messages that intrude into the bubble the finer points of their dilemma and how things will turn out for the coupleWhere Stephen King used enforced isolation in Under the Dome to look at how a town full of people expose their true selves Joyce employs a similar external device to contemplate deeper existential concerns with a man and a woman standing in for you and me Zoe and Jake are in a place where their basic needs are well taken care of and some exotic ones as well “I asked if you thought we’re trapped here or if we’ve been freed here”“Depends on which way you choose to see it”“Exactly There isn’t a right answer is there? It depends on how we choose to see it If we choose to see it as if we’re trapped here then our situation is tragic If we choose to see that we’ve been liberated here then it’s the opposite”“Comic?”“Comic isn’t the opposite of tragic”“No”“I mean to say If we choose to see it the right way we could have the most magical time here You and me Together and alone We have warmth shelter food the best wine skiing on wonderful slopes together It’s paradise if we choose to accept it If we choose to call it that“They face some crucial questions concerning who they are It was true that they had taken many skiing holidays together and after so many it did become difficult to distinguish some of them but it disturbed her that he couldn’t remember any of it“Where has it gone that holiday?” he said “How come I can remember others but not that one? I mean it’s not like my memory is a DVD that fell behind the cupboard It’s just gone”“Doesn’t matter” she said“It damn well does matter What are we if we’re not the sum of our memories?” Are we than the sum of our memories? Do we cease to be who we arewere ifwhen those memories fade? As someone with a rather unreliable internal hard drive that is a question with resonance Am I less myself today because bits of my experience have been sloughed off like dry skin? Are you less yourself? Later worried about Jake’s fade Zoe offers an alternative She was deeply worried about him but she said “It doesn’t matter It doesn’t matter because everything you can see or touch or hear or smell has a story attached to it a story I can tell you If you say bacon I can tell you a story If you say snow I can tell you a dozen different stories This is what we are a collection of stories that we share in common This is what we are to each other”There is fun to be had with this book and it is a fast read particularly considering the core existential subject matter What do the crows on the police car signify? How about the masked men that appear? Or the large black horses? This combination of serious content and surface gamesmanship made this a fascinating read We may not spare a lot of time thinking about the things that Zoe and Jake confront but maybe we should if only we could block out all that bloody noiseRandom itemsI suppose one could look at the word Haut in the name of their town where Jane and Zoe stayed two ways High class as in haute cuisine and there is certainly some good life to be sampled where they are staying or in the Germanic meaning of Haut which is skin In that case they were staying on the surface of things without penetrating to the meat The St Bernard portion of the town name could relate I suppose to an ancient saint but I prefer to think of it as having to do with rescue The author seems like a pretty interesting sort a working class bloke from a mining family he got a BA in 1977 and an MA in 1980 He worked as a youth officer which I presume means some sort of social worker cum coach for a Youth organization for many years until he and his wife move to Greece where he wrote his first novel Dreamside It sold and he became a full time writer from that point His reputation is as a writer of fantasy and speculative fiction whatever that means Here is an item from the Wikipedia page on Joyce that informs us a bit on how fantasy might have come naturally to himMy grandmother was one of these old women who used to have dreams and visions and messages arriving She would fall asleep in a chair there would be a knock on the door she would go to the door someone strange would come to the door and deliver a message And then she would wake up again in her chair Now my mother and my aunties told me these stories over and over again But they just lived with it side by side They didn't fight it as in a fantasy or horror film They didn't have to overcome it It didn't get worse and worse and worse They just accepted this mystery and then they cooked the dinnerLest one imagine a contemplative nerd GJ still plays goal for the England Writers Football teamLINKSThe Wikipedia page for GJ Joyce’s own page

  2. says:

    ‘’Once I had a dream and in the dream I went to bed and fell asleep and was dreaming And I knew I was dreaming inside a dream Do you think it’s like that? Do you?’’I’ve always thought that the winter landscape mirrored purity tranquility beauty The white of the snow the complete silence the moon casting its beams creating a scenery that is otherworldly almost unnaturally beautiful and mystifying I feel at peace with our universe when I find myself in the ‘’white’’ nature up in the mountains where the coziness of the lodge competes with the primal beauty outside The feelings that this unique novel by Graham Joyce created in me will be my company there from now onZoe and Jake find themselves trapped when an avalanche comes their way in the French Pyrenees When they return to the resort they find it devoid of any human presence All the objects are there but the hotel and the village seem to have frozen in time Uninhabited and hostileThe candles don’t burn out the food remains fresh even though it’s exposed unprotected in the kitchen Each time the couple attempts to leave they find themselves back where they started And the spiral of event and unexplained phenomena has merely startedThis is one of the most difficult books to review because even the most innocent commentary may be enough to spoil the end It is marvelously written extremely well composed and consistent from beginning to end It may be placed under the paranormal genre but it would be wrong to look upon it under this light exclusively This novel is an exploration of love togetherness companionship The kind of love that is deepmature and independent It is also an exploration of the need and instinct to survive to doubt and fight against what seems invincible incomprehensible and terminate All wrapped in a language that is poetic strong even razor sharp Haunting cold and above all realisticJake and Zoe are the only characters in this journey and my God what a company they are Extremely sympathetic engaging and realistic I could connect with them immediately and in their development lies the success and effect of the novel I could feel their fear their agony the deep love for each other their struggle to hold onto the moment They were the driving force and in them I found two very memorable charactersI shall have to leave you here because I’m getting too close to the slope of spoilers All I can say is that when you have a fairly unsentimental reader that is me and after tons and tons of books a novel manages to make this reader feel the warmth and the freezing of hearts in equal proportions then you know that the writer did something rightA definite highlight of my reading year ‘’But what was a moment? Spindrift on the back of a sunlit wave? A fox’s tail as it disappears through the hedgerow? A meteorite as it flares in the August night sky? Everything is ending or becoming Zoe didn’t believe you could freeze a moment or hold on to one’’My reviews can also be found on

  3. says:

    A heart breaking story My first acquaintance with speculative fiction Read ages before and still memorable as if I picked it up just yesterday As usual I miss my happy end This was beyond sadness distilledQ And when the mountain horn seemed to nod and sigh back at her she almost thought she could die in that place and happily 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 that she had trapped one such moment and that it could never be taken away cQSnow and silence the complete arrest of life a rehearsal and a pre echo of death cQI am alive I am an eagle cQYou’re in a snow tomb be calmShe breathed gently Her heart stopped bangingA snow tomb? You think that’s good?cQ do you think we’re trapped here? Or have we been released here?’ cQ‘It means time is running but at a different speed from our speed’ cQNurses and soldiers thought Jake They see it all and pretend they’ve seen nothing cQPeter had been a soldier on Special Operations in the war An officer in the elite SAS force he had commanded Operation Pepino behind enemy lines in the mountains of northern Italy during the winter of 1944–45 Thirty two men were parachuted in in broad daylight Their instructions were to make themselves highly visible and simulate the actions of a much larger company to divert enemy troops who were preventing an Allied advance The operation was successful and the Germans unwittingly diverted thousands of troopsIt was a fierce winter and there was close combat fighting with both Italian blackshirts and German troops Peter brought back eighteen of the thirty two men or as he always put it another way—lost fourteen good men Somehow he was back there now in the snow covered Italian mountains cQ‘Why aren’t you afraid Jake? This place terrifies meI want to know what’s going to happen to us to our baby’‘I can’t explain why I’m not scared I only know that my job is to look after you’ cQ‘We’re in a place beyond harm’ cQ‘You see we cheated death’‘We did?’‘Yes’‘Does that mean we’re safe?’‘We were always safe But we cheated death and because we couldn’t let each other go we found some extra time’‘No’‘Yes We found some extra time The dream of the present moment was interrupted for us We’re watching all of this through the seams between life and death’‘What are you saying?’‘Our love It gave us extra time It cheated death’‘But that’s a good thing Isn’t it? Isn’t that a good thing Jake?’‘Yes Yes it is’ cQ‘Listen to me Everything we are we have built from every thing we have done together If we drank a glass of wine and we said it tasted like this or that then that’s how it tasted One has to help remember it for the other' cQ‘All you have to do is refuse to forget’ ‘You know how to do that don’t you Zoe? You know how to refuse to forget?’ ‘You just keep this eye open And you’ll see me everywhere Just everywhere’ © Okay it's heartbreakingQJust snowflakes The snowflakes are in my ears in my mouth in my nose like cocaine I tried it once You can keep it for your mother it’s not a patch on where being in love can get you The blood in my veins is frozen but it sings of love cQI can hear the sword of an angel scything through the air cQI am afraid to open it But with trembling fingers I tear it open and I reach inside But there is nothing Or not exactly nothing but what there is is nothing than a card It is a kind of Tarot card but not like any Tarot card I know It depicts a tree The words at the bottom say ‘L’arbre de Vie’ Tree of life I know But it is not like any tree of life I have seen It is like a Christmas tree decorated with curious objects and impossible fruit cQAll of them everyone everything All are gone cQHe says he heard your phone ringing under the snow But it kept stopping and he was praying to let it ring’‘Laissez sonner’‘Oui Laissez sonner’ said the old manShe knew his voice But it wasn’t possible that buried under snow she could have answered her phone Then he handed her a card It was wet almost disintegrating and it was the size of a large playing card On one side was a picture of a Christmas tree decorated with gifts She had seen it before But this time there were no words on the card‘What’s this?’The man spoke and the doctor translated ‘He said it was in your fist’cQShe wondered if Jake had made a deal in some dark place a trade wherein he had not abandoned her at all but had saved her and if such a thing were possible c

  4. says:

    i have always called graham joyce jonathan carroll lite and there is nothing wrong with graham joyce i keep reading his books don't i? but they are always seem to take place in the same neighborhood as one of jc's tales just missing a certain je ne sais quoi that jonathan carroll would have supplied but this book is just ripped out of jonathan carroll's diary man this is like dean koontz trying to write a horror novel set in maine you are setting yourself up for judgment my friend and to me jonathan carroll will always win i have never wished that authors could cover other people's books the way musicians get to cover and improve other people's songselvis costello christina aguilera ben gibbard avril lavigneand my very favoriterichard thompson britney spears older men just do pop tarts' songs better and this book just screams out for jonathan carroll's touch LGM this is his realm view spoilerwhat happens between when we die and when we get our answers hide spoiler

  5. says:

    It was snowing again Gentle six pointed flakes from a picture book settling on her jacket sleeve The mountain air prickled with the ice and the savour of pine resin Zoe pulled the air into her lungs feeling the cracking cold of it before letting go And when the mountain horn seemed to nod and sigh back at her she almost thought she could die in that place and happilyimage error

  6. says:

    youngish married couple go on a ski trip avalanche when they extricate themselves from the snow they find that everyone at their ski village has disappeared and that time now moves differently what the hell?here's a clue spoiler view spoiler hide spoiler

  7. says:

    An engrossing story that starts with a married couple caught up in an avalanche From the cover and title you get the impression this is a post apocalyptic story the only similarity to being that kind of story is that they are the only ones who seem to survive an incident in the whole village All the holiday reps and tourists gone but everything seems eerie and strange One strange occurrence is that there is an abundant supply of food in the stores and the meat does not go off They try to ski and find help from outside the area but find themselves traveling in circles like they are in some sort of prison With loads of shops stocking all you desire and free to take within reach what else is there to do except enjoy your stay drink and love It turns out to be a period of time that they enjoy but soon the cracks show and things fall from their reach The only contact they make is with a French man who calls her mobile and just gets to say a few words and then the mobile cuts off Slowly as her mobile battery dies down chances of reaching help seem to become even thin The whole driving questions of the story are how will it end? what will happen to them?Things are not what they seem and there is greater forces at work in this story This is a very well plotted story of love and destiny My first read from this author which is an impressive example of story telling With a story consisting of only a few characters the writer has done well in crafting a memorable storyReview also here

  8. says:

    I asked you if you thought we're trapped here or if we've been freed hereDepends while way you choose to see itExactly There isn't a right answer is there? It depends on how we choose to see it If we choose to see it as if we're trapped here then our situation is tragic If we choose to see that we're liberated here then it's the oppositeComic?Comic isn't the opposite of tragicNoI mean to say if we choose to see it the right way we could have the most magical time here You and me Together and aloneI have nothing to add except that I cried my eyes out in the end

  9. says:

    Can reading a book like this be considered walking or skiing a well known path when it is in fact covered in snow?White delicious snow that bruises locks in and blankets you in sweet sweet comfort just before it kills you?The answer? Yes The nature of snow is still the nature of snow and the nature of this story how well worn is still a thing of beautySo where am I going with all this? It's simple It's atmosphere baby It's characters It's going on vacation and finding that time and all other people in the world has gone away It's about love and the other thing

  10. says:

    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 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 itI 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