As winter sets in at a first nations reserve in northern Ontario, the power goes out. Something dire is happening down south. Civilization is dying. Society is unravelling. The Anishinaabe survivors are left alone to endure the winter and plan for the future. Public order is an issue, as are food and heating. Soon outsiders show up, and they don’t all have honorable intentions. Survival will mean more than simply enduring. Hard choices have to be made.
Rice’s spare prose and active storytelling make for a compelling tale. Despite the severe subject matter, the book is a joy to read. It steers clear of the hackneyed tropes of the post-apocalyptic genre. The journey is believable precisely because it lacks lurid action and melodrama. It also provokes thought without preaching or vilifying. You don’t have to be partial to the genre to enjoy it.