Tuesday, June 29

Book Review: Yellowknife

Title: Yellowknife

Author: Steve Zipp

Pages: 286

Summary: The time is 1998. The millennium looms. Yellowknife, capital of one-third of Canada and home to beasts and bureaucrats, is about to become a player in the world diamond market.
People come here for the damndest reasons. Something to do with the North Pole, maybe. It attracts them, I think. Like, there's metal filings in their heads or something.

A penniless drifter, a businessman obsessed by bones, an artist with a baseball bat, a fallen academic who lives at the dump, a biologist with a son named after a fungus, a native man older than Canada, a Mounty with a jaw of steel.

He dropped several boxes of ammo into his pocket, little plastic containers with sliding lids, the shells lined up like tiny lead soldiers waiting to do their duty. He contained an impulse to throw back his head and howl.
Our Lady of the Lake Tout, the Paradox of the Ravens, the Ice Road Cafe, the Mosquito Research Institute. Y2K and the birth of Nunavut. A legend, a myth, a mystery.

My Rating: 8.5
What I liked/disliked about the book: This was a very different read for me, but the good kind of different. Definitely a unique book, but with great storytelling that hosts a cast of very eccentric characters, and gives the reader a glimpse of the Northwest Territories, Yellowknife specifically. Truly a fantastic read.

With a hint of magical realism, and a setting I have little knowledge of I found this book to be an enchanting read, unlike most other books I’ve read, especially those that are also set in Canada. It’s a mix of folklore and characterization - a look at the lives of those who live in Yellowknife, and the hardships and excitement they experience up there. I am actually finding it hard to sum up the book into words, because there are so many elements you can focus on. I think it’s a book you need to read and experience yourself, to fully understand and appreciate it. And it is one I highly recommend, but I shall try my best.

The writing style is solid. It fits perfectly with the eccentric characters, and I think depicts Yellowknife and surrounding area wonderfully. I’ve never been there, but the reader is able to be picture the setting with ease, although the author still leaves a bit of a mysterious element to what Yellowknife is all about throughout the book, making the reader continue to read the book cover to cover, to find out more about the place. Other reviewers have said it before me and I fully agree; the town is its own character at times.
The characters themselves will make you smile at times (although I did find it confusing at times, trying to keep track of them all, which is the only real problem I had with the book) and if you go into the book knowing it has elements of magical realism and folklore in it, I think you’ll really be able to enjoy the book. There are parts that are rather odd, which may detour some readers, but I think this is a book well worth reading, and experiencing. Thanks to the author for sending me the book, so I could have the chance to read it.
Would I recommend it to read: Yes, I highly recommend this book, it was such a different story than what I am used to, that it was refreshing to read.

What to read next: I’m not sure, but I think I’d say check out other books from the Canada Also Reads program. I haven’t yet, but I think it is worth checking out, to find out more books by Canadian authors, that may not get the attention they deserve.

Challenges: Read ‘n’ Review, Pages Read, 10/10 Challenge, 100+ Challenge, A - Z Challenge, Canadian Challenge III, Countdown Challenge, RYOB Challenge, What's in a Name? Challenge


  1. It sounds so intriguing. I've had this one on my TBR list for a while, must get to it soon.

  2. I hadn't yet heard of this book, but it does sound very eclectic and intriguing to me. I love it when the setting becomes a character in itself, and I also love quirky weirdness in a book as well. I am going to have to look out for this one and give it a try. It sounds like a great read. Thanks, Jules, for bringing it to my attention!!

  3. Diamonds in Canada? Really? I never would've guessed.

    And I've never heard of this book, but it does sound interesting.

  4. Jeane - It is intriguing, I hope when you get to you you enjoy it, its well worth reading.

    Zibilee - It's a book that doesn't seem to get much attention, although it should. Although maybe thats another reason why I like it, as it hasn't been a book you've seen everywhere hundreds of times before. Either way, I hope you get a chance to read it.

    Softdtink - Lol. Like I said above you should look for a copy.


    Here's a link to the website to find out more info on the novel.

  5. I think the writting style is one of the books best features ... you're right, it totally fits the cast of characters.