“The world isn’t ending…It already ended. It ended when the Zhaagnaash came into our original home down south on that bay and took it from us. That was out world…Yes, apocalypse. We’ve had that over and over. But we always survived. We’re still here. And we’ll still be here, even if the power and the radios don’t come back on and we never see any white people ever again,” (Rice).
This year’s Hamilton Reads title is a timely one and another to add to my quarantine reads.
When the power goes out in a small Anishnabee community the people aren’t too worried at first, power outages are fairly common anyways. But when the power fails to return and news that similar things are happening down South, panic starts to set in. As the band council worries about food supplies and a strong and terrible winter blows in, a mysterious stranger comes to the community saying he can help and promising food when the supplies run low. As the death toll grows high and tension raises, Evan Whitesky finds a way to restore order to the community.
While this might come off in a weird way, I think it’s kind of nice to read a book where the apocalypse isn’t focused in the States. Like I mentioned in my last review, so many apocalypse narratives have a similar theme of “if it doesn’t happen in New York did it ever really happen?” Reading an apocalypse narrative written by an Indigenous author with Indigenous characters is also a first, and it’s sad I can’t think of more diverse reads in that genre. So much of what we read is white-centric that reading a book like Moon of the Crusted Snow is a necessary reminder of why we need diverse books.
What sticks with me most about this book is the quote I shared at the beginning of the book, not the entirety though the main message is still there. I first heard it at the Grit Lit Festival in 2019 when Rice was a guest and read the quote to the audience in a panel on apocalypse narratives. It stayed with me then and it stays with me now as an important reminder of Canada’s dark and often hidden history on our treatment of Indigenous peoples. But the quote brings so much hope: Indigenous communities have had many apocalypses in their lives because of white people but they have survived every time, they will continue surviving no matter the adversity.
It’s what makes this book so memorable, the theme of survival and how even when it seems hopeless all that can be done is to survive. Moon of the Crusted Snow is a must-read and a unique one in apocalypse fiction, and I especially can’t wait to read the sequel Rice is writing!
Publication: October 2nd 2018
Publisher: ECW Press
Pages: ??? (my Ebook gave 400 pages but Goodreads says it’s 218)
Genre: Fiction, Science Fiction, Dystopia, Canadian, Indigenous
My Rating: ⛤⛤⛤⛤
“With winter looming, a small northern Anishinaabe community goes dark. Cut off, people become passive and confused. Panic builds as the food supply dwindles. While the band council and a pocket of community members struggle to maintain order, an unexpected visitor arrives, escaping the crumbling society to the south. Soon after, others follow.
The community leadership loses its grip on power as the visitors manipulate the tired and hungry to take control of the reserve. Tensions rise and, as the months pass, so does the death toll due to sickness and despair. Frustrated by the building chaos, a group of young friends and their families turn to the land and Anishinaabe tradition in hopes of helping their community thrive again. Guided through the chaos by an unlikely leader named Evan Whitesky, they endeavor to restore order while grappling with a grave decision.”