Stories from the Nation of Wisland by Bryce Paradis and Evan Coupland

Summary

In Wisland, the church is the state and God’s word is law. The nation’s supreme leader, the Diviner, is resting on his deathbed. A secretly atheistic cleric is poised to succeed him and speak for God. A drought is devastating this year’s crops, and the underclass is bracing for a starving winter. Follow five characters as they struggle to survive a pre-industrial nation being torn apart by an onslaught of change.

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Characters

This jumps around between multiple points of view, most of which are main characters. Each character was well built and unqiue…although most are difficult to like. The authors did a good job of making them feel real. Tam—the gentle giant, Linne—the odd aristocrat, Talos—the ambitious change agent, Etta—the ‘wolf pup,’ and Duncan—the aged believer. There are also snapshots into other stories and entries from journals from other secondary characters. Downside of getting flashes into people’s lives is context. At times an entire chapter was confusing, while others were easy to understand and follow. Once the familiar faces return, it gets easier to get into the story’s flow. That being said I very much enjoyed Linne’s story.

Plot

In this fully immersive world, you are dropped into Wisland. This book doesn’t ease you in, it throws you in, so hold on! It has impressive world building with its own language and feel. It creates an authentic feel to the stories and characters.

That being said the plot never really forms, as it focuses more on the characters. That gave it a story for story sake feel. If you are looking for happy endings, go elsewhere. These felt like real and unforgiving stories that unfolded. They pack a punch. I’m not sure if there was a conclusion or even an overall direction, other then just reading a collection of stories from this unique dytopian world. The themes I picked up on were: People are people and we are our choices. 

Overall

Melodic but pointed prose that have a tenancy to explain in a round about sort of way but mostly still get its point across. At times it felt like a different dialect with no context.  I also noticed many times there was a tendency for long-winded run on in text and dialogue. Not always bad but ones mind did tend to wander when it ran too long. Even though the stories were dark and visceral, they had an authentic feel to our own sorted history with religion. It presented the aspects of religion nicely without being overbearing or swinging harsh in either direction. I believe this was achieved because it was a character driven, rather than a plot driven book. The sort of non-ending conclusion was my least favorite part of the book.

Rating

4 Stars

A literary fiction set in a dystopian time, immerse yourself in the world of Wisland and its sordid characters as you catch a glimpse of their lives.

Where did I get a copy?

The author sent me a copy. This is a voluntary and honest review.

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