Book Review: The Wolves of Winter by Tyrell Johnson

In the end, it’s funny how little we need to get by. Snow, moose, potatoes, carrots, the company of a few good people.

It’s amazing how little we need to survive.

And not just survive, but live.

Following an attack on the Pentagon by way of hacked drones, America is thrown into a tailspin and the government goes haywire leading to a worldwide nuclear war and the deadliest flu pandemic in recent history. The resulting radiation has led to an endless winter which wreaks havoc on the minuscule human population that managed to survive everything else. Families were forced to flee to perceived safer ground only to bunker down and learn to hunt and grow crops, melt snow for water and protect themselves by any means necessary. Enter Lynn, our fierce protagonist whose family relocated to Eagle, Alaska and then to the remote Canadian wilderness to evade the destruction and disease ravaging the country; however we eventually learn there was a deeper, more sinister reason behind their isolation.

Mom and Dad would never admit to it, but something bad had gone down at work. I don’t know what. of whether it was related to the war. But from the way he and Mom avoided talking about it, and the looks they gave each other when I asked, I knew there was more to the story. So we had to move. I didn’t care much about the truth, of maybe I didn’t really want to know. Didn’t want my dad to have done something wrong. So I left it.

Lynn’s father had succumbed to the flu before the story begins, but we grow to understand their bond through her narration. He taught her to shoot a compound bow and to overcome her fears all the while remaining a caring, stable force in Lynn’s life. His loss left the remaining members of the McBride family, Lynn’s mother, brother and herself, as well as her father’s friend Jeryl and his ward Ramsey to make their own way in the frozen Yukon.

For seven years they subsist on homegrown potatoes and carrots and the variety of wild meat stock piled in their freezer, having limited contact with other humans aside from their vile neighbor Conrad. Life is a boring routine for Lynn—hunt and don’t freeze to death—that is until she stumbles upon another human being travelling through the forest with his dog and her desire for something more becomes tangible.

I wondered how long Jax and Wolf would stay, wondered how far north they’d go, wondered what life would be life running off into the wilderness with a dog and a stranger.

Being the first outsider the Mcbride clan has seen in nearly a decade, Jax is under severe scrutiny and though at first he appears to be just a regular guy it quickly becomes clear that isn’t the case. His arrival begins to unravel the cocoon that shielded Lynn from the secrets her father kept, the reason they moved and what made her so special to him.

As my dad used to say, it never rains, it pours. Jax had just arrived. The first human we’d seen from outside our settlement in seven years. Turns out he wasn’t alone.

What follows is a thrilling crusade of discovery that pits Lynn against the dangers of the Yukon and the more remote dangers of the world at large. What she uncovers will shatter her world while simultaneously proving her bravery, strength and will to survive.

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A review copy of this title was provided by Scribner.

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