“The most serious charge which can be brought against New England is not Puritanism but February.”
~ Joseph Wood Krutch, The Twelve Seasons
Sometimes you really should judge a book by its cover, the publishers spend a lot of time and money on them after all. And this one with its gorgeous cover by Ken Garduno is a perfect example.
There I was on Saturday with a few minutes to spare before my bus arrived I popped into my local bookshop for a quick browse. (Yes. I know. My own fault!) I was just about to leave when I spotted this fantastic looking, compact book.
While It’s a peculiar and very quirky little story, it’s also utterly brilliant.
The book’s epigraph I quoted at the start, gives us a clue about who the bad-guy is going to be…
It used to be a happy town, celebrating life and flight with balloons and vibrant bird life, but as the book opens, February has tighten his wintery grip on the land. The balloons and birds have been grounded, and the land is blanketed in snow.
On the 127th day of February the first child goes missing from the town. Yep, you read that right, the 127th day! As I said earlier, this is a peculiar little book.
As their world gets bleaker and bleaker the towns-people start to take the battle back to February and war is declared, the first attempt to take the offensive involves them wearing summer clothes and talking loudly about how nice the weather is.
The story telling, is not the only thing that is quirky about the book. The way it is laid out adds to the effect with short, sharp chapters, and different fonts and sizes employed to emphasise certain bits of the story. With each chapter focusing on a different person or group I was initially reminded of Steven Millhouser’s Enchanted Night. But you certainly won’t feel the same way about February as you do the night when you finish this one. Even though Jone’s writing is just as brilliantly evocative.
“I closed my eyes. I imagined Selah and Bianca in a canoe so narrow they had to lie down with their arms folded on their stomachs, their heads at opposite ends, their toes touching. I dreamed two miniature suns. I set one each upon their foreheads. I dreamed a waterfall and a calm lake of my arms below to catch them.
I really can’t recommend this one enough. It’s almost definitely going to be on my top-ten of the year.