Ed O’Loughlin’s Minds of Winter is epic, spanning centuries and the north and south poles, and it’s part of the problem I had with the novel. The story is both a mystery and a history lesson, loosely following two strangers who struggle to find common ground as they untangle an enigma of missing explorers, possible family connections, cryptic artifacts, and many, many other loose ends. In between their sleuthing, O’Loughlin introduces the reader to a host of characters, from famous Arctic and Antarctic explorers to native peoples of the Arctic Circle. Some just pop up for a chapter, some for merely a page or two. It’s hard to keep track of the scores of intertwining narratives here and it makes for a frustrating read, especially when the history lessons dispersed throughout the book that render vivid, exhaustively researched tellings of famous northern and southern expeditions are so rich. O’Loughlin must be commended for the scope of the story and he assuredly knows the real life tales of the explorers who appear like ghosts throughout the novel, but the story goes nowhere nearly down to the last page.
Minds of Winter available March 7, 2017.