In The Arctic Sun: Rowan Hill
Reviewed By Steve Stred
I connected with Rowan Hill on Twitter some time back (these things always seem fuzzy, it could’ve been a year, or three!) and when the release day hit for this one, she shared it and I immediately purchased a copy. I don’t know how I missed it, but I would’ve preordered this for sure. The cover art (from Don Noble) is gorgeous and the synopsis sounded right up my alley.
I went in unsure where we end up, but knowing that if this was a story set in remote Alaska where something lurks, wherever we did end up would be bleak and I’m here for that.
What I liked: The story follows Sarah, a former Californian lawyer, who has moved to a small town in Alaska with her husband, to try and decompress and leave the rat race behind them.
Not long after moving, they have an argument and her husband and her take a break, leaving her alone in the house.
Hill does a great job of showing us how isolated they are but not overdoing it. She deftly gives us clues and hints that Sarah isn’t alone in the house, while also alluding to what might actually be going on. There are a few scenes in this one that’ll have you squirming and pulling your legs off the floor or closer to you in bed, one specifically that’ll live with me forever involves a bear head being dragged away. Deliciously frightening.
The ending is fast-paced and chaotic and we get some really grisly events, which – when compared to what ‘actually’ happened – really does create some hard questions to examine.
What I didn’t like: Much like with ‘Come Closer’ by Sara Gran I don’t know if I truly accepted the “ill woman” strain that filtered throughout this. It’s tougher to go into it while remaining spoiler-free, but I think, for me personally, this book would’ve been more emotionally impactful (and it was in spades already) if it was an all or nothing approach to either side of that coin.
Why you should buy this: Hill has crafted a really fantastic, galloping story about isolation, survival and something lurking just out of sight. I really enjoyed how Sarah seemed to evolve in this one, going from a city-fied lawyer to a woman battling to stay alive.
This was a fun one and I’m excited to see what’s next for Hill!
In The Arctic Sun
The trees of Alaska’s Arctic wilderness have always been Sarah’s sentries and her house, a fortress, isolated from society and an abusive marriage.
Until it isn’t.
The arrival of a new neighbor and an oil company drilling through primordial, cold earth changes the forest of her valley. It bleeds through the serenity and disrupts her home, her sanity. Plagued with insomnia from the midnight sun, Sarah increasingly suspects something is using her sanctuary to hide from the bright, incessant light. An insidious menace, ancient and beyond explanation, using the wilderness for cover. Her personal demon that cares nothing for Sarah or her mental health. Something that won’t stop until it takes it all.
Steve Stred is the Splatterpunk Nominated Author of ‘Sacrament’ and ‘Mastodon.’
Based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Steve has released over a dozen novels and novellas as well as a number of collections. He has appeared alongside some of horror’s biggest names within some truly excellent anthologies.
He is a proud co-founder of the LOHF Writer’s Grant and an Active Member of the HWA.