Ancient mythologies are one of the most popular sources for modern media, be it movies, TV, comic books or novels. These ancient stories are filled with larger-than-life characters, fantastic quests, and powers beyond imagining. But given the number of times these mythologies have been adapted, it is a true achievement to do something new, something interesting with them. Thunder Road achieves that in spades.
Chadwick Ginther's debut novel follows Ted Callan as he leaves behind his life in the oil sands of Alberta for greener pastures in Manitoba, a trend that has often flowed in the reverse. His marriage has fallen apart, his life is in shambles. All he has in the world is in the trunk of his GTO as he plows across the prairies towards whatever is next in his life. But why did all of this happen? What ruined his marriage? What drove him away from a lucrative career in the oil sands?
Thunder Road by Chadwick Ginther (Turnstone Press)
A fiery demon ripping from the ground in the middle of the patch in the opening pages of the book is the crux of what toppled Ted's world. Then, after an encounter on the road with a fortune-teller named Tilda hitchhiking on the highway, Ted is accosted in a bar by a strange man and assaulted in his hotel room by a group of bearded men who shave and forcibly tattoo him. The road to Winnipeg is harder than I remember...Thunder Road
is a well-paced, well-crafted book that keeps the reader hooked from the first page, though it does set a couple of big hurdles for itself right off the bat. The first of those hurdles is the incorporation of Norse mythology, which is key to the story. As often as these myths do get used in popular media, most people are unfamiliar with their more traditional forms of them that Ginther has chosen to adapt for this contemporary story.
The danger of trying to get readers up to speed on these myths while moving the narrative along is to become blatantly expository, a pitfall Ginther deftly avoids. In one scene, he uses a conversation with a tattoo artist to provide information on Ted's tattoos while explaining a bit about Norse mythology to the reader. By doling out tidbits of information in such creative scenes, Thunder Road
maintains its narrative flow while making sure you understand what is going on and who is involved.Read more of this review which was excerpted courtesy of The Winnipeg Review.