Below Torrential Hill by Jonathan Koven is an interesting novel about a teenager who is bereaved of love after his father passes away in the woods. The novel is slow burn but quite evocative and emotional in its soul. The novel features the story of sixteen-year-old Tristen. He lives with his mother Lucy and stepfather Lave.
Torrential Hill is a small town, the story is back dropped against its exquisite nature and landscape. It is Christmas time but for Tristen, he is drab and gloomy. He couldn’t adjust well with the terms of life after his father went missing in the woods and found dead. There was something sinister related to his death. He could not overcome it.
However, Tristen and his mother live in some other trance or fits of mood, may be they hear strange things in the town through their kitchen. Strange things occur in the town like comets falling, explosion of light in the vast expanse of snow. The novel peeps inside the broken heart of this teenage guy. He is into smoking, alcohol and being aloof in more than one way. He looks for love from Ava but she too was casual about him and her family planning to leave the town. The novel is solely based on Tristen and much of the story revolves around him.
It’s evident how family is responsible for the growth of children. Due to cramped family life and lack of motherly love, keeps Tristen in low spirits. It’s a unique novel with its own emotions that run high along with the rich description of nature and its verdancy, look at the below excerpt from the book, how superbly Koven described the nature in its silent glory.
“When stronger wind arrived, it brought along crowds of snow pearls forged in its every ascent and dip. Tristen squinted to see. The boundless sky was rippling blue, embraced with sand-splashed clouds and the moon at the end of gale’s kiss. He saw its morning welcome. A dreamlike silver sail in the leaping blue sky, it held Tristen’s vision in the fluid of his mind’s wander. Blue, blue, blue.”
Koven’s rich language usage and description of places and hearty emotions fuels life in the story. Even auxiliary characters like Lucy, Ava, and Lave did great job and suited well to their roles. Overall, a different but highly readable novel with some magical realism in it.
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