Traveling the infamous Kolyma Highway in the coldest parts of Siberia, Felix Teiglund and his friend Jack Prentiss hope to be able to pull together a documentary film or television series about life in the coldest town on Earth. When they finally arrive the town appears to be uninhabited aside from a mostly catatonic little girl, Una, who their guide recognizes as the child of some of the other missing townspeople. In the process of investigating the empty town, they decide to pack up and take Una to her great grandmother’s gas station which is further down the infamous road of bones.
Mr. Golden sets the scene incredibly well, and the isolation and desolation definitely play a great part in this tale of supernatural horror and suspense. Very quickly, the group are confronted by mysterious shadow wolves who attack them: seemingly in an attempt to get to Una. In the process, Teig and Prentiss’ guide, Kaskil, is killed, and the party goes on the run to rush away from the town. The thing is, the wolves seem to be keeping up quite handily.
Yup, these folks are in a mess of peril.
The Kolyma Highway is a daunting subject to tackle, and Mr. Golden does it great justice. There is probably no other stretch of highway with such a gruesome history. Stalin had it built to connect his Siberian gulags, and it is estimated that hundreds of thousands of prisoner bodies lie beneath the pavement: a morbid tomb for the poor souls who constructed the 1,262 miles of it.
This novel is all about the futility of survival when the elements — be they natural or even supernatural — are very much not in your favor.
Sure, there are several quite confusing portions of the book, but the story progresses in a manner that very much compelled me to try and find the light at the end of the tunnel. I’ll leave it to you to decide if that actually happens. Definitely some great Summer reading.