One of the best parts of this dystopian YA novel, the first in the Winterkill series, is the setting. The Canadian prairies are re-imagined in a time when civilization as we know it has collapsed. There is the river, the prairie and the forest at the edge of the colony. The trembling aspen description and the use of Saskatoons is spot on. A band of survivors has settled into a protected community with very strict rules.
It is run by The Committee and life is, for the most part, a struggle. There are the taboos, the inhospitable winter months, the loss of technology and the return to labour-intensive methods. Emmaline is 15, soon to be 16, and a gatherer. She finds things for the herbalist who tries to look after ills with the most primitive of potions. Few can read and there isn't much to read.
The story follows Emmaline, Tom, and Kane who all have secrets and suffer from the lack of freedom and the strict repression of the Committee. There is the danger from outside. Watchers along the wall are tasked with sounding the alarm if the malmaci approach. There are three groups in the community- the English-speaking, the French speaking, and the French-First Nations speakers.
Boorman's story comments on religion, power, and repression. Winterkill is the first in the series, followed by Darkthaw and Heartfire. If the next two books are as good, I'll read the second and third.
Kate Boorman lives in Edmonton.
I am an avid reader and like to share some of my "finds" with others.