I had to give myself a few days after reading Liam Callanan's "The Cloud Atlas" before writing this review. It leaves me with a great sense of calm and peace that I do not want to end. While the subject is actually rather disturbing, the writing, and the landscape, and the very souls of the main characters are beautiful.
Callanan has taken an obscure piece of WWII history and knit a story around it, and in the process, made us (or at least me) fall in love with what I had previously thought of as an unforgiving landscape in a desolate land. I supposed I had viewed Alaska as more "foreign", even though it is part of the United States. Having read "The Call of The Wild" and "The White Dawn: An Eskimo Saga", (not to mention Alaska cruise line ads), I considered myself to have at least a rudimentary knowledge about the Alaskan wilderness. This Alaska has much more depth. I love how the myth of Aurora Borealis folds into the night-scape like a dreamer's waking thoughts. I enjoy our mysterious femme fatale who seems to love both our hero and our antagonist in strangely sad ways. I love the balloons, though I should not. Even the half frozen marsh is beautiful, in a small boat, quietly following an invisible route under an empty moon.
To simply describe the plot as about an old priest remembering his days in the bomb squad in the Army during the 2nd world war is to leave out the undercurrent of appreciation he has for this place which has claimed him for most of his life, or the hard relationships, which make up his softness. It was a pleasure to read whether or not you care about the Alaskan bush, or history, or bombs, or war.