Title: The Quality of Silence
Author: Rosamund Lupton
Publisher: Little Brown Book Group
Publication Date: 2 July 2015
Rating: 4 out of 5
On 24 November Yasmin and her ten-year-old daughter Ruby set off on a journey across Northern Alaska. They’re searching for Ruby’s father, missing in the arctic wilderness.
More isolated with each frozen mile they cover, they travel deeper into an endless night. And Ruby, deaf since birth, must brave the darkness where sight cannot guide her.
She won’t abandon her father. But winter has tightened its grip, and there is somebody out there who wants to stop them.
Somebody tracking them through the dark.
Thank you to Little Brown Book Group and Netgalley for providing me with a review copy of The Quality of Silence.
The Quality of Silence is a tense and suspenseful thriller, told through both the eyes of a profoundly deaf child, Ruby, and her mother, Yasmin. Flying to Alaska, they are plunged into a terrifying journey to find Ruby’s father, Matt, thought to have been lost in an Inupiaq village fire.
The tale takes the reader into the stark and snowy surroundings of the Alaskan Arctic. Yasmin and Ruby have to contend with 24 hour darkness, incredibly cold temperatures and life-threatening snow storms as they work their way along a chilling and isolated journey across the ice roads of Northern Alaska, risking life and limb to find Ruby’s father.
The story is well-paced, never allowing the reader to rest. Tension builds at a steady pace as Yasmin and Ruby find a trucker willing to help them start on their journey to the village of Anaktue, hundreds of miles further on into the Arctic Circle. As their journey progresses, they see blue lights behind them, keeping pace with them, yet never trying to pass. Ruby starts to receive emails containing very disturbing photographs. Is someone following them? Will they make it to Anaktue alive? Equally worrying is the hurricane-force storm that is due to hit them during their perilous journey on the icy tundra roads.
The characters are interesting. Yasmin is a beautiful and extremely intelligent women, full of courage and never giving up hope of finding her husband alive. Yet, is this to the detriment of her young daughter, Ruby, whom she leads further into danger as their adventure progresses? Ruby, 10 years old, has been completely death from birth and therefore constantly lives in some state of isolation. Lupton deals with Ruby’s disability in a beautifully graceful and empathetic way, showing not only the difficulties faced by Ruby, but also allowing the reader to see the ways in which Ruby’s life is enhanced by this ‘disability’. Whilst struggling to make friends in ‘real life’, she has found an online persona where her silent words are heard. She is able to view life, sound, vibrations etc… in a way that a 10 year old child of normal hearing simply could not appreciate.
The story is unusually narrated by one protagonist (Ruby) in the first person and by another protagonist (Yasmin) in the third person. This works well as it allows us to learn more about Yasmin and Matt’s relationship, things that Ruby would not appreciate at such a young age, whilst still leaving the reader in no doubt that Ruby is the main character in this tale.
The setting in the Alaskan wilds is hugely evocative, with the constant darkness hiding from them the stunningly beautiful but deadly expanse. The reader will find themselves chilled to the bone by the combination of the terrifying story and the icy location.
There are a few surprises along the way and, for me, the ending was particularly unexpected. However, it does tie in nicely with the political/environmental message raised in the early stages of the story. The only bit to me which didn’t quite ring true, was the fact that an intelligent and loving mother chooses to take her young child into the perilous sinister wilderness without any real thought for her safety. However, it is this omission that leads to the entire story.
Overall, The Quality of Silence is a beautifully evocative and stylish thriller, pulling the reader into its icy and eerie clutches. A perfect read for a dark and wet winter’s day.
About the Author
Rosamund Lupton was a screenwriter for many years before writing her first novel – ‘Sister’ . It was the winner of Richard & Judy’s bookclub 2010 and broadcast on Radio 4’s Book at Bedtime. It was one of Amazon’s fiction top ten picks for 2010 and the fastest selling debut in the history of WH Smith. It was published in the USA on 7th June and was picked by the New York Times review of books as well as receiving critical acclaim in a wide variety of other national media. Her second novel ‘Afterwards’ was published on 9th June in the UK and in its first week of sales went into the Sunday Times best seller list and has had widespread critical acclaim.
She lives in London with her husband and two children.