The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton

It's been a while since I've read a good thriller. a genuinely shivers-down-the-spine kinda book that delves into the psyche - belonging to the good old school of psychological suspense - and keeps me up way beyond my sleep-time.

The Quality of Silence fits the bill perfectly. I got this book on NetGalley during an early promo-giveaway in exchange for an honest review. This is my first Rosamund Lupton book and definitely not the last ever. This chilling thriller that follows the travails of a mother-daughter duo in the icy barren expanses of Alaska as they try to track down their husband/father lost after a deadly accident in the wild reads like a tight-rope walk with no leeway for a single false step - the plot is interesting yes but it's the characterization of the mother-daughter duo that really won my heart. Especially Ruby, the deaf girl who's so brave, kind and retains her child-like purity in a world of evil. Despite all her problems.

So Yasmin and her daughter Ruby land up in Alaska for a Christmas reunion with her husband, Matt - who's filming wildlife in Alaska. But trouble brews - as she is confronted by the terrible news of a fire-accident in the village where he was supposed to be staying - the entire village having been wiped out. Yasmin's had her problems with Matt - staying away from her husband and now wants to give themselves a chance to revive their flagging relationship. Ruby, born with a hearing problem, nevertheless is a bright chirpy kid with a wonderful unrelenting sense of joie de vivre. She is way too bright for her age and shares a close bond with her father; for her the trip means a happy reunion with her dad.

Yasmin refuses to believe the news even as cops try to dissuade her - and she bravely sets forth all by herself ( along with Ruby) to go find her husband. Her trust and belief is unshakeable and despite the odds [And these are many! hurdles one after the other - starting off with no planes to fly to this village, then truckers refusing to give her a lift, the weather gods being angry and a mysterious stalker who follows them all through the wild ice-cold expanses.] Yasmin presses on, resolute in her beliefs and not wanting to disappoint her daughter.

The novel in parts is a high-stakes chase as the mysterious stalker keeps after Yasmin and Ruby through the stillness of the night despite the flurry of high-speed snow-storms crashing eighteen-wheeler trucks against the mountains. There are white-knuckle moments interspersed throughout the book as Yasmin struggles to drive the truck on lonely snow-ridden mountain-passes with the stalker in hot pursuit, jamming her from reversing, almost causing them to crash down the ravines. Terrifyingly real moments. But at the heart of it, it's a gritty story of survival against nature - and of love. Fighting hypothermia, frostbite, the dark chasm of dark hopelessness, Yasmin fights on to reunite her daughter with her husband. A fantastic portrayal of a female protagonist, Yasmin is (yes) a beautiful woman who knows that she is beautiful. But it's her fearlessness and her alacrity in thinking that saves both on more than one occasion.

The black dark barren expanses of Alaska is as much a character in the whole book as these two though. Never for a moment does Rosamund let us forget that what is beautiful can be dangerous as well. Especially true for a land like Alaska - Yes it has the Aurora Borealis but it also has it's minus-fifty degrees killer storms whipping in at hundred-and-eighty kilometers per hour and nine-hundred miles of dead snow without a single tree spread over mountains.

What elevates the book above the ordinary is the rhythm. It's got an effortless rhythm in terms of the flowing narrative - never jarring. It maintains the taut edge-of-the-seat act till about three-fourths of the novel and then it slowly starts to unravel. The dialog is crisp and heart-warming. especially Ruby's maxims on life - a ten-year old perspective that is absolutely delightful. There are several moments in the book that illustrate and stay true to the name, Quality of Silence. Is it golden? Or is it multi-hued like a sparkling rainbow?

Evocative. Suspenseful. And heart-warming, Quality of Silence is a must-read book that celebrates the  triumph of the human spirit. For me personally, the book being set in Alaska, a land little known outside the scientific circles, brings to color in an authoritative manner, the ways of life in this icy expanse where the sun can be a distant memory and the black night your companion for days. 


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