Steph Recommends: Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick


Hardcover, 224 pages
Published July 16th 2009 by Orion
Source: Library

Of the four of us, Steph and I have the most disparate reading tastes. She prefers no-frills realistic stories while I like frills and a fantastic genre (unless it’s Manga, then I prefer realistic stuff) above all else. Still, I have read Sedgwick’s White Crow and enjoyed it a lot so when she suggested I read Revolver I pounced on the chance to read more of his work.

It is a rather timely novel, I must say, considering the Great-Gun-Debate our neighbours across the border are (and if they aren’t, they should be) indulging in. Here’s a synopsis:

“They say that dead men tell no tales, but they’re wrong. Even the dead tell stories.”

It’s 1910. In a cabin north of the Arctic Circle, in a place murderously cold and desolate, Sig Andersson is alone. Except for the corpse of his father, frozen to death that morning when he fell through the ice on the lake.

The cabin is silent, so silent, and then there’s a knock at the door. It’s a stranger, and as his extraordinary story of gold dust and gold lust unwinds, Sig’s thoughts turn more and more to his father’s prized possession, a Colt revolver, hidden in the storeroom.

A revolver just waiting to be used…but should Sig use it, or not?

So there is Sig, left to look after his father’s corpse while his step-mother and sister go to a town hours away to get help, when a knock on the door reveals a hostile stranger on his doorstep. The stranger who introduces himself as Wolff says that he has business with Sig’s father but upon finding him dead decides that Sig has inherited his father’s work, as it were, and demands that Sig hand over the gold that rightly belongs to him.

Only problem? Sig has no idea what Wolff is talking about. Not that Wolff believes him. What follows is a brutal two days where Wolff alternatively threatens and beats Sig if he doesn’t cough up the gold. Interspersed are recollections from the past when Einar, Sig’s father, alive, and they lived in a place colder than where they currently live. Running through the narrative is the discourse on gun, specifically, the Colt that Sig’s father owned. Einar taught Sig how to use the gun and though his mother and his new mother made their dislike of the gun explicit, he has always has conflicting feelings about it.

Sig understands the seductive power of the gun but at the same time he realizes its potential for destruction. As Wolff gets increasingly erratic and his sister, Anne, returns and faces harm, Sig realizes he has to make a very important decision.

I found the book raw and emotionally intense. It’s setting is so fitting to the story being told. The harsh wintry weather coupled with the poverty makes the situation even more desperate. Wolff’s refusal to listen to reason and the threat in his bulk make him a very effective villain. The book is short so the pacing is rapid which fits the story being told. There are moments of introspection followed by furious bursts of action.

All in all, even though this is not the kind of book I’d pick on my own, I’m glad Steph recommended it to me. It allowed me to taste a different kind of story. Would I recommend it? Yeah. I feel like the book has a lot to say about having a gun and using it and I loved the climax scene in which Sig makes his decision.


2 responses to “Steph Recommends: Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick

    • I think you’d enjoy it, Janet. I have a middlegrade novel for you that I think you will absolutely love. I’ll give it to Yash next time I see her.

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