My book talks are coming at you from a librarian, not a reviewer. You won’t find me talking about style or craft, why I think this could’ve been better or what worked or didn’t work. I only do book talks on books I liked and want other people to know about. So if it’s here I probably think it won’t injure your brain if you read it.
Ten years of bitter winters, each lasting longer than the one before have left much of Poland without reliable electricity. As the eleventh winter settles in, Magda cares for her ailing grandmother in the rural areas where most of the comforts of modernity have slipped away over time. The night after grandmother’s death, relief teams from the cities come to round up the country dwellers for their own protection. Magda hides in the basement, fearing thieves. She emerges in the morning to find her village utterly empty.
Alone, Magda finds the last pony in the village and decides to try for London, where her mother works as a servant. Misjudging the latest storm, she finds herself stranded in the woods. Luck leads her to an abandoned cabin, and a fellow wanderer named Ivan finds her fire. The two try to make their way together, amid mistrust and guarded conversations.
But London is a war zone, with starving citizens rioting in the streets and tanks patrolling the edges of town. Unable to find her mother, Magda does locate her townspeople and faces the choice of settling into a work camp or taking a chance at survival with Ivan, who is transporting illegal passports out of the country.
As the winter stretches and her hopes fades, Madga finds herself questioning the worth of living in a world where there is no hope, and spring never comes.