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All the Winters After


All the Winters After

Alaska doesn’t forgive mistakes,” it is written in Seré Prince Halverson’s ALL THE WINTERS AFTER. As we find, Alaska is a dangerous territory both physically and spiritually. It is home to desolation, long landscapes and those escaping society to seek something more. It makes for a fair second novel from Halverson, whose debut, THE UNDERSIDE OF JOY, was also fair enough but nothing extraordinary. Neither book goes above and beyond any form of storytelling, although each has a strong premise.

As ALL THE WINTERS AFTER opens, Kachemak Winkel is venturing back home to Caboose, Alaska, after living and working in Texas. He fled there after his mother, father and brother were killed in a plane crash 20 years ago. After being let go from his job in Texas, he returns to Caboose to seek family. However, Kache finds his old homestead, a cabin built by his parents, taken up by a young woman named Nadia, who has been there for 10 years. She has escaped a religious enclave from a group of Russians called “Old Believers” and is now living in seclusion. Nadia and Kache make for an interesting dynamic, and Nadia herself may be the most dimensional character of the novel.

"Nadia and Kache make for an interesting dynamic, and Nadia herself may be the most dimensional character of the novel."

Meanwhile, characters like Kache’s grandmother, Lettie, seem stilited, and his aunt Snag comes off as one-dimensional. Consider our introduction to Aunt Snag: “she’d been bathing every surface with buckets of Zoom cleaner, suctioning up the cat hair….wrapping the bed in clean sheets.” This characterization never lifts; most of these characters seem too written and not real enough.

A relationship between Kache and Nadia eventually forms. Kache returns to Texas, but then comes back to Alaska to visit her. He shops and cooks for her, sending the old-fashioned Nadia into a different world of thinking. Although each has flaws, both seem too well adjusted for their pasts. Nadia, who spent her childhood in a religious cult and has lived in isolation, fares too well socially. Her scars and inhibitions are never exposed, and she acts too much like she has never lived alone. Kache, on the other hand, is damaged goods and harbors his pain too well. It doesn’t show on his face and in his personality like it should. Thus, you would think that the two would move towards each other cautiously; instead, they ease into each other too much like they’re supposed to.

ALL THE WINTERS AFTER comes to us in five parts. But between most of them, too little happens --- and despite the strong premise, things feel too safe. It all adds up to a novel with much promise but with too many contrivances and simply not enough imagination.

Reviewed by Stephen Febick on February 26, 2016

All the Winters After
by Seré Prince Halverson

  • Publication Date: January 10, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
  • ISBN-10: 1492635219
  • ISBN-13: 9781492635215