Cold Coast by Robyn Mundy

Published: 2021 1. First lines 2. Cover: Ultimo Press 3. White fox [Public Domain] via piqsels 4. Trapper’s hut [Public Domain] via piqsels

Set in the Arctic winter of 1923, this is the story of the first female trapper, Wanny Woldstad, at Svalbard, Norway. The story also follows the life of a blue fox as it hunts throughout the area, crossing paths with Wanny and her trapping partner.

“Anders pictures those wide-eyed onlookers braced at the ship’s railings, cosy in their fine furs, marvelling at the mountains and glaciers of this ‘cold coast’.”

The author cleverly inserts the story of the blue fox into the narrative about Wanny, as the fox watches the trappers as they go about their job of trapping fox, polar bear and other animals. The AU Review noted that the author “played off Saeterdal’s fragile sense of his masculinity with his growing care for Wanny, and the way that she develops the bond between them without venturing into the territory of romance.” I really liked this too, and also the way the Arctic environment is portrayed so vividly.

Quotes:

“Out across the fjord, the slapping of water gives way to sea ice yawing and creaking as it expands and retracts. Bergs grind and grate against frozen collars of sea ice. They overturn, collapse through sea ice and send out a wave of frigid water.”

“She licks her muzzle and whiskers clean of fish. She licks her paws to wipe her ears. The fox halts. She stands tall and at alert. She knows the scent even before the polar bear comes into view, the animal ambling along the coastline toward the trapper’s hut.”

“Wanny has put out clean hand towels. A multicoloured cloth newly pinned beneath the window. She has a cheery cloth ready to cover the table once the baking is done. The Chief has chopped extra wood, stacked indoors where they can find a space.”



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