Title: A Strong and Sudden Thaw
Author: R W Day
Publisher: Lethe Press
Buy link: Amazon.com
Genre: GLBT (M/M) Speculative
Length: 376 pages (print) (also available in ebook)
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Guest Reviewer: Kris
The Ice fell upon the world nearly a hundred years ago, and if civilization didn’t rightly collapse, it surely staggered and fell ill a while. In the small town of Moline, Virginia, folks struggle to survive, relying on hybrid seed sent by the faraway Dept. of Reintroduction and Agriculture and their own faith in God and hard work. But when a mated pair of dragons starts hunting the countryside, stealing sheep, and attacking children, the townsfolk quickly learn that they don’t have the weapons or the skills to fight off such predators.
David Anderson is a farmer’s son who has explored the world through books. When he meets the new healer in town, Callan Landers, he doesn’t quite know what to make of the strange warmth stealing over him. It’s not until he surprises Callan with another man—and both men are promptly arrested for sodomy—that David finally realizes the truth about his own feelings.
When David and Callan stumble over a secret in a nearby abandoned town, their personal problems fade before government politics and corruption that threaten lives. It seems the dragons aren’t the worst dangers facing Moline.
Honesty from the outset~
I’m a huge, huge fan of speculative fiction. For those not familiar with the term, speculative fiction is basically a catch-all word used to encompass the genres of science fiction, fantasy, futuristic, horror, urban fantasy, paranormal… well, you get the point.
Not only is this story speculative, but the setting is futuristic, post-Apocalyptic Earth – one of my fave eva genres – and has a terrific frontier-like feel to it. Think Firefly or Jericho.
Not only that, but it has a Conspiracy (yes, it’s worthy of an uppercase ‘C’! What more can a lover of this genre ask for?? Nothing I tells ya! *ahem* You can therefore imagine that I was pretty much in heaven reading A Strong and Sudden Thaw.
That being said, the book was not without a few issues.
First things first~
In general I found this a very well written book told in the first person from the point of view of the main character, David. This is a POV I tend to have mixed feelings about (it’s the ‘I’ thing), however I found this a pretty accessible read.
This was intended to be the first book in a series, although it seems uncertain now as to whether a sequel will be written. Regardless, the world building was absolutely spot on. It didn’t overwhelm me with description like some first-offs do and it was extremely believable (with some twists), which I think is very important when it comes to the post-Apocalyptic genre in particular. It is entirely imaginable that people turn to their belief systems in the face of uncertainty, hence the homophobia that prevails in this small town and society as a whole.
I especially liked the references between some of the things we take for granted today and what life was like for the people of this world. I think these comparisons allowed me to connect more with the story and the characters.
The biggest problem I had with A Strong and Sudden Thaw was that the plot was a little contrived. For me, a few of the bad things (ie conflict) seemed to be resolved (relatively) easily. Other issues like the homosexuality of the main character; albeit a main story arc, was dealt with in a more in depth – and satisfying – way.
A couple of warnings~
It’s a country town, people, so the language is ‘down-on-the-range-ish’, which did take me a little while to get into.
In addition to this, David and his romantic interest, Callan, are babies. David is the ripe old age of about 17, Callan in his early 20s. This did worry me a little to begin with, although I eventually got into the frontier-groove of the story where folk did marry young, start contributing to the family young, etc, etc.
It does mean the story focuses on David’s growing realisation of his feelings and sexuality (although I think it would have been good to have this explored a little further through more self-reflection/inner dialogue), his developing relationship with Callan and the impact this will have on him, his family and life.
For those boys and girls who prefer erotica, this is not the book for you. What sex scenes there are between David and Callan are sweet, hot and all about discovery, which is a main theme of A Strong and Sudden Thaw.
If you like post-Apocalyptic fiction with an m/m theme and/or yearn for a great coming of age story, then you’ll really enjoy this.
I will definitely read more work by R W Day and hope (beg and plead) there will be a sequel for A Strong and Sudden Thaw.