December 2018, and free-spirited influencers Bo Loxley and her partner Zac are living a life of wanderlust, travelling the globe and sharing their adventures with their millions of fans.
Booked to spend Christmas in the Norwegian fjords, they set up home in a remote farm owned by enigmatic mountain guide Anders and his fierce grandmother Signy. Surrounded by snowy peaks and frozen falls, everything should be perfect. But the camera can lie and with every new post, the ‘perfect’ life Zac and Bo are portraying is diverging from the truth.
Something Bo can’t explain is wrong at the very heart of their lives and Anders is the only person who’ll listen.
June 1936, and fourteen-year-old Signy is sent with her sister and village friends to the summer pastures to work as milkmaids, protecting the herd that will sustain the farm through the long, winter months. But miles from home and away from the safety of their families, threat begins to lurk in friendly faces . . .
The mountains keep secrets – Signy knows this better than anyone – and as Bo’s life begins to spiral she is forced, like the old woman before her, to question who is friend and who is foe.
An atmospheric story, that is deeper than it first appears, following Bo and Zac, two Instagram social influencers to the beautiful but forbidding Norwegian fjords in wintertime. There they meet Anders their mysterious guide and his fiercely independent grandmother, Signy.
The story is told from Bo’s point of view as she faces up to her demons, and questions whether she really is living the dream with Zac, or just running away. Signy’s story told in flashbacks to 1936 is simple, but devastating, and helps understand her fighting spirit and her willingness to face physical hardship to achieve the solitude she needs.
The contrast between the virtual world Bo lives in and the grounded world Signy inhabits is the lynchpin of this story, which explores relationships, the power of social media and the many secrets the story’s characters’ are keeping.
There is an underlying menace in both timelines, reinforced by the danger ever present in the mountainous region. There is poignant romance brought to life by believable characters and situations.
Out of tragedy comes hope and an understanding of love and the true meaning of sacrifice.
An unusual festive story with many layers to engage the reader and a hopeful ending.
I received a copy of this book from Pan Macmillan – Pan via NetGalley in return for an honest review.