Review – Yellowknife by Steve Zipp

yellowknife Synopsis


People come here for the damndest reasons.  Something to do with the North Pole, maybe.  It attracts them, I think.  Like, there's metal filings in their heads or something.

A penniless drifter, a businessman obsessed by bones, an artist with a baseball bat, a fallen academic who lives at the dump, a biologist with a son named after a fungus, a native man older than Canada, a Mounty with a jaw of steel.

He dropped several boxes of ammo into his pocket, little plastic containers with sliding lids, the shells lined up like tiny lead soldiers waiting to do their duty.  He contained an impulse to throw back his head and howl.

Our Lady of the Lake Trout, the Paradox of the Ravens, the Ice Road Cafe, the Mosquito Research Institute. Y2K and the birth of Nunavut.  A legend, a myth, a mystery.


First off, a huge shout out to thank Steve Zipp, author of Yellowknife, for offering a copy of his novel to me for the 2nd Canadian Book Challenge eh? I totally respect and feel thankful to authors who place their trust (and their paper babies) into the hands of book bloggers.

Now let’s get onto the book eh? So I’m Canadian, so is Steve and his book is also Canadian, being set in the Canadian city of Yellowknife. But the Canada found within this novel is definitely not the Canada I’m used to. I never would have guessed just how different my area of Canada could be from another, but not in a bad way! After reading the fantastic descriptions of this city I am all for a vacation to experience the wonders of Yellowknife for myself.

I won’t even kid myself into thinking I can discuss the plot of Yellowknife to the degree of justice it deserves. If you skipped past the synopsis above, go back up and take a peek. Okay so now that everyone is clear on the plotline(s) let me tell you what a fantastic job the author did of combining together a few convoluted scenarios featuring a cast of utterly unforgettable characters into a mesmerizing tale of a town that comes to life with vivid details.

The characters that populate this novel were lovable in their realistic humanity. They all have problems, from being ambushed by a buffalo to having to sleep in a basement office under your desk. One of the most endearing qualities of the characters is that they seem to be life-losers, always on the losing team but forever going to bat. As a reader, you really start to cheer these guys on, hoping that just once that might hit a home run.

But no matter how great the characters and storyline are, the truly outstanding aspect of Yellowknife is the writing. As with a car, it can be sleek and gorgeous but the unseen engine underneath is what powers it. This book has an engine that could give a Nascar racer a run for his money. Steve Zipp clearly has a way with words, but his eye for detail helps this immensely. The descriptions found here are startlingly lifelike and add a down-home quality to the town and inhabitants he has created.

I highly recommend Yellowknife for everyone. A fantastic mix of mystery, action, humour and bureaucratic satire, with a twist of bizarre thrown in for good measure. If you are a fan of Twin Peaks, Northern Exposure or Men In Trees I think you will find Yellowknife a captivating and enjoyable read.


About The Author

Steve Zipp spent many years in the North, his work taking him from Baffin Island to the Mackenzie Mountains, the Arctic coast to the Mackenzie Bison Sanctuary.

He's battled mosquitoes and overflow and frozen water pipes.  He's banded ducks and tagged polar bears, participated in aerial caribou surveys, chowed down on seal and walrus, endured raven-induced blackouts, and enjoyed many other pleasures of northern life. 

Excerpts from Yellowknife have appeared in Lichen and Pottersfield Portfolio.  Other writings by the author have appeared in On Spec and Prairie Fire.

Author Website

Published by Res Telluris

© 2008-2010 Joanne Mosher of The Book Zombie. All rights reserved.


Anonymous said...

I always end up liking Canadian authors. I may have to add this one to the (never-ending) list of books to read someday.

Joanne ♦ The Book Zombie said...

I usually end up enjoying Canuck authors too - with the exception of Michael Slade, I could never get into his books.

Chrisbookarama said...

I enjoyed this one too.

Jeane said...

I think yours is one of the best reviews I've read of this book yet. At least, in terms of making it sound so compellingly interesting I'm tempted to add it to my TBR right now.

Dewey said...

Oooh! One for the wishlist, definitely!

Melwyk said...

I really enjoyed this one too (Steve sent it to me to read for the 1st Can. Challenge). Glad you found it so entertaining; I so agree with you!

The Bookworm said...

I almost didnt recognize your blog, great new look!
great review, Yellowknife sounds like a worthwile read.

John Mutford said...

Yes, Yellowknife is different than say Toronto, but it's not a noticeably different from most Canadian towns as Iqaluit. Or if we want to go even smaller in size, Rankin Inlet. The more time you spend in the North, the more the southern locales seem to be "different," instead of the other way around.

Thoughts of Joy said...

I'm hoping to read this one. You've made it sound great!