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on 17 June 2012
Zoe and Jake are trapped in an avalanche while on a skiing holiday, but somehow manage to escape. Or do they? They find their hotel and the local village both deserted and the phone lines dead, but when they try to venture further afield for help, they keep finding themselves back where they began. A waiting game begins, while they try to work out what has happened, or - perhaps more importantly - what will happen next...

Joyce has an unpretentious prose style that is easy to read, and a gift for both characterisation and evocation of place which I hoped might lift a storyline that otherwise held little appeal for me. Having read the back cover synopsis, one knows to expect a slightly hackneyed scenario to play out, and - aside from the sarcastic banter - it really does have the deja vu feel of watching a Sunday afternoon movie you have seen too many times before. One must be of a certain mindset(/generation?) to find the characters' banter entertaining, and I did find it somewhat grating. I was simply waiting for the story to move on and find out if we would ever know why, in this particular instance, the scenario was taking place.

I was in fact slightly shocked when, a little pseudo-philosophising and a lot of schmaltz later I found that there were no surprises to unfold in this story. The characters retained a ghostly lack of solidity and believability, despite their constant back and forth of conversation; and what began as a cliché, continued and ended as a cliché. I knew from previous of Joyce novels (of which I am nevertheless fond) that he is a romantic at heart; but while it's nice to see a contemporary author - not of the romance genre - who is not too jaded to write about a true love relationship, it was disappointing that there really was no unique perspective to be gleaned from this very straightforward requiem for life and love. I should have trusted my instincts with regard to a synopsis that did not appeal. On the plus side, it didn't take more than a few hours to read.
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on 12 May 2013
A young couple on a skiing holiday are caught in an avalanche. They manage to free themselves only to find the resort has been evacuated due to fears of further landslips. Or has it? Tension gradually builds and an atmosphere of increasing entrapment and desperation develops. I couldn't put it down and read it in one day. I would have given it 5 stars if the ending hadn't been a little predictable (though well-handled.)
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on 14 August 2011
The one word that describes this book is `eerie'. The atmosphere, the situation the two people find themselves in, the deserted town and the visions that seemingly only Zoe can see are haunting and mysterious.

They try to drive out of town but the car breaks down, they try to walk away but end up on the same road that brings them back to the town, they ski over the mountain but, again, they find themselves back to the same familiar buildings.

"It's almost like something is keeping us here in this village." Zoe said, looking around her. "Like something doesn't want to let us go."

Zoe and Jake are a happily married couple who have been together for 10 years and their love for each other is apparent in the tender way they watch out for each other, constantly reassuring each other that everything will be okay, while keeping their thoughts to themselves that it may not be.

They can walk into any of the shops and take whatever they want, including designer shoes and clothes but there seems little point when there's no-one to show off to.

Candles don't burn down, food stays fresh, Zoe has the same recurring vision of the hotel lobby full of people but when she looks again they're gone, they felt as though they'd been living there for weeks but it was only a couple of days ...... what and where is this place?

I was totally immersed in the story of this young couple who are desperate to know what's happening but are powerless to do anything, and I felt such sympathy and desperation for them I really wanted there to be a happy ending.

There are just a handful of books I've read that have stayed with me long after I've moved on and I think that this will be one of them.
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on 4 September 2011
After reading the reviews I was sure that I would really enjoy this book. It sounded like it was well written and a little bit spooky, just the thing to curl up with in the evening. I was so excited when it arrived and I settled down to read. It started slowly but some good books do so I persevered. It continued to be slow and by this point I was getting a little bored to be honest. Long story short I got over half way through the book and still nothing of significance had happened, nothing spooky or ominous, nothing even remotely original or exciting. I carried on reading hoping that things would get better. They didn't. Obviously I am in the minority as many reviews are positive but I wanted to warn people so they don't waste their money like I did. This book is slow, very slow and not really that well written. There is no atmosphere created. I really didn't like this book at all and I read a lot (not all of it that great.) I usually try to find a positive but my overall feeling about this book is just as described above, a very dull read.
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VINE VOICEon 29 January 2012
Reading other reviewers being picky about this'n that, I am a little surprised to read here that 'it's too slow' (??)or that it is not well-written enough etc...Obviously not the book you would pick-up if you wanted to read grand literature, nethertheless I found it well written enough to pleasantly carry me through the story, not so much thinking about style, but about what was taking place...I simply loved the premise of this young couple on a holiday break in the Pyrennees when they are suddenly engulfed in a avalanche. What follows is utterly disconcerting and riveting, and no, I never guessed what was coming (the revelation at the end) because all is very skifully orchestrated all along. I found it incredibly atmospheric, I could see the abandonned hotel, the snow slopes, the total isolation of the two protagonists, left behind to survive in a deserted world. This is a theme I like in literature and so far found two other books with that same theme but a very different treatment: 'Night Work' by Glavinic and 'Grand solo for Anton' by Rosendorfer. This one by Joyce is the one I prefer by far. There is a depth to the story that leaves one thoughtful and it is a very touching love story disguised as 'sci-fi'. I read it on a holiday where it proved to be a perfect, excellent holiday read indeed. Totally recommend it to anyone longing for the silence of the mountains and the snow...
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VINE VOICEon 28 March 2012
This is the story of Zoe and Jake who are caught in a avalanche in the Pyrenees. After they manage to dig themselves out they return to the ski resort where they are staying only to find it deserted. As they explore their new environment, they are unable to contact the outside world or find anyone else. And as the story progresses, things become a bit stranger.

The early scenes in the book are pretty well done. The descriptions are vivid and the situation believable. And as the tale unfolds I was pretty wrapped up in what was going to happen. The problem I had was that the ending didn't provide a satisfactory conclusion for me. And that coloured my view of the whole book, hence the 3 stars. A decent ending would definitely have upped it to 4. I'm not giving anything away here - it's an ok read and not too demanding in terms of prose and length. I'd maybe read another of his, but wouldn't rush out based on this.
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on 10 May 2013
I saw this book on amazon a while again and was really looking forward to reading it, but I was so disappointed when I finally got round to reading it. Going from other reviews on here I formed a very wrong opinion of the book and imagined it to be so much better. The theory and concept of the novel is good, but the execution was dire, the writing, development of character and dialogue were terrible, I've never been so bored reading a book. After the first couple of chapters I decided to keep on going with the hope that it'd get better, I was wrong, if anything it got worse. The standard of writing was so simplistic and basic and resembled more like a poorly written childrens book, with absolutely no investment in quality and certainly didn't reflect the writing background tha the author appears to have. I had two other novels by this author in my wish list, since reading this novel they have been removed. I'm very sorry about this review but when you build yourself up and look forward to actually reading something so promising only to have it shattered, you can't help feel disappointed.
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on 7 December 2010
The Silent Land is another superb book from Graham Joyce, the UK's most thought-provoking writer in the fantasy genre. The relationship between Zoe and Jake is full of love and humour but never sentimental - they cuss each other as often as they make love! What I love about Graham's fantasy writing is its ambivalence. The believer in the supernatural finds the wonderful imagination of the writer very satisfying, but for those of us who are non-believers, there is always a possible rational explanation available. And Graham never forces us to take one particular view.
If you've never read Graham Joyce, start with this book - you will soar with the ski-iers. For anyone who has loved The Tooth Fairy, The Facts of Life, Dark Sister, Dreamside, you will be well satisfied with this new one.
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VINE VOICEon 18 November 2010
I first read 'The Silent Land' back in June as an early reading copy yet in spite of all the books I have read since this story has remained with me, the mark of a great book in my opinion. The plot is reminiscent of the series 'The Twilight Zone'; while on a skiing holiday in the Pyrenes Zoe and Jake are caught in an early morning avalance, from which it would appear that they should not have survived; but they do. Returning to the village they find it deserted, after a few days they decide to try to leave but find out they can't, however they try to leave, skiing or by car they keep ending back at the village. Are they alive, dead, or somewhere inbetween? This is the mystery they and the reader have to solve.

The title 'The Silent Land', comes from the famous poem 'Remember' by Christina Georgina Rossetti, which is quoted at the front of the novel; therefore it gives nothing away to say that this story is about death. It is also a poignant, supernatural love story, but not at all sentimental. The main, and for the most part only characters are Zoe, Jake and the beautiful snowy landscape that surrounds them and by the end of the book I felt that I really knew these people and cared about them. I can't deny that this book is sad, but it also has humour and ultimately left me with a tear in my eye and a smile on my face.

A book for anyone who really likes to get to grips with the characters and for those who like strange supernatural tales. The plot may not feel 'original' but the execution brings something new to it. A perfect Winter read, curl up by the fire with a mug of hot chocolate and enjoy.
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on 11 March 2011
I have never read anything before by Graham Joyce and I feel like I've discovered a new author. What a fantastic read. I purchased this book for our march book club read and I'm so glad my friend and fellow book club member choose it-other wise I would never ever have purchased it. Don't want to give the plot away or add in any spoilers just that its a thriller, love story, page turner all the way through. Its a beautiful quick easy read (I finshed it on a 9hour flight!) and its one of the best books I've read this year. Its one of those that I'm now telling everyone about so that hopefully word of mouth will make it as popular as the novel one day has become. What ever genre your in to this book will suit all age groups, tastes and both sexes. Please do purchase it you won't be disapppointed.
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