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5/5 ⭐ | Immortal North Two: A Novel by Tom Stewart

“Overhead, arched branches hold skiffs of snow, the forest decorated in strung garland for the nightly gala of winter survival, the high-stakes dance of predator and prey.” – p. 1

The first “Immortal North” was released in March of 2022 and ended on a rather dramatic note. On its own, “Immortal North” was a spectacular read. However, as author Tom Stewart indicates, while he never intended for a second book, “Immortal North Two” just called to him to write, and it is so very clear by his beautiful writing and gripping story that this book was itching to be put out into the world.

In his author’s note, Stewart himself recommends reading the first book before diving into this one. As such, I went back and re-read some of the first “Immortal North,” and I’m so glad that I did, not just for the story’s sake but for the rugged landscapes, call of the wild, and our primary character, the trapper. Stewart’s writing is next to none in its ability to transport readers to the bitter cold and beauty of the northern Canadian woods, but the second book, “Immortal North Two,” jumps in right where book one leaves off, so be prepared to adhere to the author’s recommendation and do yourself a favor and read the first book.

Tom Stewart has become a master at writing about the Canadian North. “Immortal North Two” marks my third book of his, and each one becomes better than the last. Stewart brings his own firsthand experiences to the crafting of the landscapes, hunting, and survival scenes. Having grown up in Winnipeg, Canada he’s worked in the North as a bush pilot, hunting and fishing guide, and oil-rig roughneck. These experiences lend well to his trapper character which graces the pages of this duology. With a talent and passion for the North, Stewart has done a phenomenal job bringing his experiences to a broader audience through his realistically fictional storytelling.

As mentioned, “Immortal North Two” picked up immediately where the first book left off. Our main character was still the isolated trapper in the woods, living a three-day hike from the nearest town. But, where book one rarely ventured into the town’s characters, “Immortal North Two” gave readers a fuller view of not only the trapper’s life but the life surrounding the nearest town. Oscillating between the woods and town readers can appreciate the vastly different ways of life. Where the woods provide little to no dialog as Stewart lyrically enchants us with the beauty of the forest and life, the town scenes provide the dialog and pace driving this story forward.

It is hard to fully explain Stewart’s writing talent, it is omnipotent, at times lyrical and other times philosophical. At one point over the course of several pages, readers will become entranced by a singular poker hand. Having read the first book, readers will already know the outcome of this game, and yet his words, his way of writing, the drawn-out nature of the play will leave readers on the edges of their seat salivating as they wait for the final card to drop. “Immortal North Two” is thought provoking, offering bits of sage advice and a realness deep within. The beauty, the heartache, and the drive to survive make this a story that readers will not soon forget.

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