“An Island Between Two Shores” is a gripping, powerful story about survival in a hostile land, about conquering your deepest fears and staying strong even when everything seems lost. A dangerous journey, a young girl’s life hanging on a thin thread of hope… Through this brutal, yet redeeming novel, bestselling author Graham Wilson manages to pull the reader out of his comfort zone and make him deal with the fact that, even in a fictional universe, things might not go the way he expects. If I were to describe “An Island Between Two Shores” in three words, I would say: realistic, wonderful, heartbreaking.
Liana has left Paris with her father who wanted to try his luck and get rich in the Klondike gold rush. Now, in 1900, Liana is 18 years old, her father has died in what she thinks was an accident and she is left alone with Henry, an old Indian friend, in an isolated cabin in the north. When Henry is killed by two men and the cabin is burnt to the ground, Liana’s only chance at survival is to escape into the wilderness and hope she will make it back to civilization. With only a set of clothes, a knife and a fishhook with a line, Liana is trapped on a desolate arctic island and has to survive or accept defeat in front of the harsh northern winter and the wild animals. What keeps her alive is her oath of revenge against those who have killed Henry and possibly even her father. But when you have to fight against your fears and a ruthless environment at such an early age, only trusting your instincts and the hazy memories of what an old Indian friend has once told you, things might just become near impossible to handle.
Liana is a beautifully written character the reader can immediately relate to. I felt like I had a lot to learn from her and wondered if I’d ever be able to survive in such a difficult situation. There were times when I was genuinely afraid for her and I really needed her to be given a chance to survive and make it back home. “An Island Between Two Shores” was inspired by the author’s own adventures in the north, for he has lived in Yukon, Canada since 1986, which makes his novel even more realistic. Also, the landscapes he describes are simply breathtaking. Here is just an example:
“In the distance, snowy mountains shimmered in the mid-morning sun. She was startled by their enormity. The scale of the landscape was always unsettling to her. It was too vast, too expansive. This meadow was somewhere close to the border between Alaska and the Yukon, but she never cared to figure out which side it laid.”
The last couple of words clearly emphasize the fact that Liana is in the land of nowhere, she is lost and she’s not even interested in finding her own way. This will soon change when her loved ones are killed and she is forced into making a decision.
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