Great NorthRating: 4.5 stars
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Length: Novella

The Great North is a post-apocalyptic fantasy set in what used to be Canada’s northern provinces a few hundred years in the future. The population is low, the weather tends to be more hot than cold, and people subsist on agriculture and their own ingenuity.

Dywn is eighteen, past the age of adulthood, and his father, the Minister of their settlement in Manicouga, is determined to see him married to a girl of good stock. Their religious teachings of the Tripartite God are preached every Sun’s Day by Dwyn’s father. These fiery sermons include admonitions against same-sex love, as the population is so low they fear extinction. Just over 500 people live in Manicouga, and this is the most populous settlement in the region.

Still, Dwyn doesn’t really wish to marry Kessa, his intended. She’s unkind and, well, female. He’s not attracted, despite her beauty. Dwyn meets Mael when his band of rag-tag refugees rolls into Manicouga from Land’s End, a settlement on the coast several days journey north. Mael’s village was destroyed in a freak blizzard, and he’s been instructed by the Old Ones to journey south. The Old Ones are a supernatural force that few see, but Mael believes, and heeds their warning.

Mael and the nine people with him are all that remain of their kind and culture, a society which allowed persons to take heart-mates and breed-mates, and build prosperous lives together. Mael’s male heart-mate died a year ago and his female breed-mate died in the storm, so Mael believes his attraction to Dwyn is a sign of good fortune.

Dwyn’s powerful father does not agree.

I really loved this tasty fantasy. There’s a bit of the supernatural here, between the Old Ones making their wishes known and Dwyn’s visions of life at time of the nuclear holocaust. It was interesting and haunting, the small snatches of our culture superimposed on this desperate landscape. I found myself charmed by the colloquialisms that survived 300 years of “Telephone” in this new oral-history society.

Dwyn and Mael are sweet and kind men who forge a new path that meshes with the indigenous cultures of yore, and build a society in harmony with the earth. I liked it lots, and wasn’t even sad that there was hardly a juicy bit of loving on the page.

veronica sig