Two young lovers find themselves utterly alone after a skiing accident in the French Alps.
Best known in his native England for erudite fantasy, Joyce (How to Make Friends with Demons, 2009, etc.) spins a story of devotion that is equal parts romance and nightmare. It begins, appropriately enough, in the bitter cold of the mountains near Chamonix, France, and the chill never really goes away throughout the course of the novel. A British married couple, Jake and Zoe, are enjoying the thrills and arresting scenery of one of the world’s great ski runs. “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 she had trapped one such moment and it could never be taken away,” Joyce writes. “Everywhere was snow and silence. Snow and silence; the complete arrest of life; a rehearsal for and a pre-echo of death.” It’s a crucial moment in Zoe’s life—perhaps the most important of her entire life, as half the mountain soon comes hurtling down upon them both. Fortunately, Zoe is trapped in a lucky pocket of air and Jake manages to free her from her precarious position upside-down. But as the two lovers make their way back to civilization, they’re startled to find that they seem to be the only ones left. All other human beings seem to have been evacuated, and no forms of communication work. The absence of company isn’t the only odd occurrence, either. As the mountain threatens to bury them once more, the lovers enter a fascinating dialogue about what lies between them. “If there is any sense to marriage at all, it’s so that I take your thorns and you sometimes take mine,” says Jake.
An affecting story of soul mates and the elements that bind them together.