The Road To Winter by Mark Smith

The Road To Winter

by Mark Smith

Since a deadly virus and the violence that followed wiped out his parents and most of his community, Finn has lived alone on the rugged coast with only his loyal dog Rowdy for company. He has stayed alive for two winters-hunting and fishing and trading food, and keeping out of sight of the Wilders, an armed and dangerous gang that controls the north, led by a ruthless man named Ramage. But Finn's isolation is shattered when a girl runs onto the beach. Rose is a Siley-an asylum seeker-and she has escaped from Ramage, who had enslaved her and her younger sister, Kas. Rose is desperate, sick, and needs Finn's help. Kas is still missing somewhere out in the bush. And Ramage wants the girls back-at any cost. .... From the author Wilder Country.

Reviewed by Kelly on

4 of 5 stars

3.5 Stars.
The Road To Winter was a wonderful read that lured me in with it's premise and left me wanting more. Finn is a remarkable young man. Having lost his mother two years ago to the virus spreading across the country, his father passing as a result of a violent outbreak in town, Finn's only company is his canine companion Rowdy and the sound of the waves which beckon him. He's self sufficient, hunting, fishing and trading his fresh catches with a local farmer in exchange for fruit and vegetables. It's a meager existence and he's simply surviving rather than living. Until he meets Rose.

Rose's fear is palpable. She's on the run from the Wilders and escaped when she and sister Kashmala were separated and is desperate to find her before the viscous Ramage and his Wilders find them both. Although weary to share her story, Rose's life has been a traumatic struggle of imprisonment and ownership. Having arrived in Australia as an asylum seeker, the girls were given to a local family while adults were placed in detention centers. Siley's are owned by Australian families, used to work on the land and denied an education or a basic duty of care.

I loved the social messages woven throughout the storyline. It touches on the social injustice of basic human rights and the plight of refugees within Australia, gently and with care. The barren Australian coastline was vivid, a simple existence that captivated with so few words. But as much as I had enjoyed the storyline overall, the backstory felt lacking.

As a reader, I need to know how the portrayed world came to be, why does the virus effect more females than males? Before communication was left abandoned, how far did the virus spread? Finn himself also talks about how his town assumed there would be government intervention, a cure or precautions to help stem the deadly virus from spreading. Were capital cities effected? I can understand that a character of sixteen is unable to provide answers, apart from bigoted speculation that those seeking asylum had brought the virus to our shores. I hope that book two in the currently unnamed series is able to provide more information as the storyline progresses.

Overall, it was a quick, yet entertaining read. Although Finn's character is likable, I wanted to feel an emotional connection to his character but couldn't quite get there. It could be that I tend to find the female perspective more enjoyable as a narrative, but that's simply personal preference. Regardless, a wonderful debut and I look forward to reading the next series installment.

Last modified on

Reading updates

  • Started reading
  • 5 July, 2016: Finished reading
  • 5 July, 2016: Reviewed