[REVIEW] Moon of the Crusted Snow, by Waubgeshig Rice

(Find it HERE.)

Evan Whitesky is a loving father, doting husband, and pretty good moose hunter who lives on an Anishinaabe reserve in Northern Canada. As he preps for the upcoming winter, a massive power outage cuts the reserve entirely off from the outside world. While Evan and his family are somewhat secure, partially because of their conscious reclamation of heritage practices, the same is not true for the whole community. As the rest of the world faces apocalypse, visitors begin to creep north and infringe on their carefully constructed, paper thin peace.

For the first third of this book I was disappointed. The writing seemed flat, the story slow, and the details about the apocalypse apparently overtaking the whole world were annoyingly scant.

Then white settlers in survivalist gear start showing up to demand food and shelter–and the hair stood up on the back of my neck. This book has been promoted as dystopian fiction. It’s not. It’s horror, layered with references to a particular being from Indigenous mythology that I know better than to name. It’s also not slow-it’s deliberate, with a chilling payoff. The prose is still a little flat, but it’s serviceable, and this is a first novel, after all.

I also really appreciate the character of Evan Whitesky. He reminds me of a couple guys I grew up with–thoughtful, patient boys who grew up to be thoughtful, patient men who quietly join the hard work of sharing and reclaiming positive cultural practices in communities struggling in the lengthy aftermath of colonization, oppression and genocide without veering into toxicity. While I’m aware that this holds a special significance in Indigenous communities, there are men a little like Evan in communities of color all across the Americas, and they don’t get to be the hero in stories often enough.

Speaking of culture–a special shout out to @anishinaabekwereads for unintentionally helping me engage with the Anishinaabemowin (language) in the book. She often uses it in her posts, and that tiny bit of shared familiarity got me to find online resources so I could understand the untranslated Anishinaabe dialogue throughout the book. Miigwech!

I liked this and want more stories from this author. 4 stars and a hot piece of bannock to Moon Of The Crusted Snow.

(Fellow readers! This one was scary but good! If you want to read it, consider purchasing it from the Equal Opportunity Bookshop. Be aware that this blog has an affiliate relationship with Bookshop and any purchases made from clicks on this site may result in a commission being paid. Peace!)

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