cover image Lark Ascending

Lark Ascending

Silas House. Algonquin, $27 (288p) ISBN 978-1-64375-159-7

In this brutal yet hopeful dystopian, House (Southernmost) creates a day-after-tomorrow scenario in which fires have devastated the globe, the U.S. has been taken over by religious extremists called the Fundies, and Ireland has become a place of sanctuary. That’s where 20-year-old Lark and his parents are headed in a yacht filled with refugees from North America. But as they near land, they find the border has been closed and are attacked. Lark is the only survivor. He ventures inland—before his mother died in the violence, she said to walk to Glendalough, an old monastic settlement. On the way, he hooks up with a stray dog, Seamus, and a rifle-toting widow, Helen, who is in search of her missing son. The trio gets caught up in a war between the Nays (who are opposed to everything) and the Resistance. They pick up Ronan, the young daughter of a bounty hunter, whose presence only complicates matters for the three. House’s dystopia is an overly familiar one, slipstreaming behind Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven, though the author fearlessly leans into his dark vision and adds texture with flashbacks to Lark’s early years and chapters narrated from Seamus’s point of view. The result is a fiercely visceral reading experience. (Sept.)