'LYRICAL AND ACTION-PACKED' Guardian
'IMPOSSIBLE TO PUT DOWN, OR FORGET' Sunday Mirror
'I COULDN'T TURN THE PAGES FAST ENOUGH' Clare Mackintosh
'BEAUTIFULLY WRITTEN AND UNBEARABLY TENSE' Observer
'GLORIOUS DRAMA AND LYRICAL FLAIR Denise Mina, New York Times
Wynn and Jack have been best friends since their first day of college, brought together by their shared love of books and the great outdoors.
The adventure of a lifetime
When they decide to take time off university and canoe down the Maskwa River in northern Canada, they anticipate the ultimate wilderness experience.
No fellow travellers.
No way of going back.
A hellish ride
But as a raging wildfire starts to make its way towards them, their expedition becomes a desperate race for survival. And when a man suddenly appears, claiming his wife has vanished, the fight against nature's destructive power becomes entangled with a much deadlier game of cat and mouse.
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Heller (Celine) explores human relationships buffeted by outside forces in his suspenseful latest. The central friendship is between two young men, Wynn and Jack, students who have taken a leave of absence from Dartmouth to explore the Canadian wilderness. Their late summer canoe trip, however, finds them pursued by two dangerous natural foes a rapidly advancing wildfire and the equally swift approach of freezing temperatures. Their trip is further complicated when the two men's intervention in a domestic drama results in the addition of a deeply traumatized woman, Maia, to their traveling party. Short on supplies, racing against disaster toward civilization, Jack and Wynn's loyalties to one another are repeatedly strained. Jack and Wynn who are both effortlessly erudite while also seemingly adept at virtually every skill of the outdoorsman may be too well-rounded to be entirely believable. Their motivations are convincing, however, especially when nature's violence rekindles Jack's memories of his mother's accidental death years earlier. Maia, conversely, can at times feel more like a plot device than like a woman with an inherently dramatic story of her own. Nevertheless, with its evocative descriptions of nature's splendor and brutality, Heller's novel beautifully depicts the powers that can drive humans apart and those that compel them to return repeatedly to one another.