Moon of the Crusted Snow

In a small northern First Nations community, all lines of communication, as well as the power, have been disconnected without explanation. Winter has arrived and panic has set in. Has something happened down south? Is help on the way? And who is this mysterious survivalist, Jason Scott, who has arrived in town?

I thought Waubgeshig Rice did a great job showing how panic slowly made its way into the heads of the community leaders as well as townsfolk. Not allowing the reader to be aware of what caused the communication and utility disruption down South helped put the audience in the same mindset as the characters, so you’re less likely to trust anyone who would arrive looking for food and shelter.

As the novel progresses, it comes off as an allegory for colonialism, which I would be shocked if that wasn’t the author’s intention. I felt this was extremely effective as the novel itself seems to be about distrust, isolation and perseverance – all common themes that can easily be found in the early days of European arrival.

The novel’s main protagonist, Evan Whitesky, is a very grounded and relatable character. He’s admirable in his attempt to keep the community’s situation from exploding, but also isn’t presented as its saviour either, although he has several dreams during the story that help to point him in the right direction. These were my favorite scenes. One in particular near the novel’s climax involving Jason spooked me!

My only complaint is that I had wished the writing was a little stronger. A lot of the depictions of characters, clothing, locations were pretty bare bones with basic descriptors, being so noticeable, that they often took me out of the story.

With Moon of the Crusted Snow, Waubgeshig Rice has written a novel laced with anxiety. He asks the question, “what would you do if the comforts of modern life were suddenly stripped away?”

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