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Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
Immortal North by Tom Stewart is a work of literary fiction that revolves around an unnamed father known only to the reader as “the trapper” and sometimes as “the man”, who lives a completely isolated existence in the northern woodlands with his son, referred to only as “the boy”. The trapper is a widower raising his son on his own, with a backstory that we get rare glimpses of through shifts of time, but is also relayed in dialogue that shows the trapper is more than just an exceptional survivalist; he is also educated. The pair live on the land exclusively, foraging and hunting during the year with a single annual trip to town to trade and sell for that which the forest does not provide. When tragedy strikes once more, the reader embarks on an emotional journey that Stewart deftly crafts with the hand of a skilled author.
What can I say to convey the beauty Tom Stewart has created with Immortal North? There is symbolism everywhere, including a book title that clearly indicates how immortality is only of the land, not the people, not the animals, not the flora and fauna. This land is so well described that it becomes a character in and of itself, and we are armchair voyeurs to the trapper and his world. I found the interactions between the trapper and his son, and between the people in town to be the best parts. The narrative is heavy when we are in the point of view of the trapper, but when the dialogue rolls in and when the boy in particular speaks, it sure is hard not to fall head-over-heels in love with him. There is a scene with the trapper, the boy, and a bear that is spectacular, although most of the scenes are. But nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, could prepare me for chapter twenty-six, so intense is the plot shift. Immortal North requires an emotional investment from a reader, but if you are willing to give Stewart your time, he will give you a piece of the trapper's and the boy's hearts. And you will find by the midway point that you have given them all of yours. Very highly recommended.