Reviews of THE LAND

Click on any hyperlink below to read the full review!

Here’s the review of The Land from The Star Tribune!

“A spiritual quest for meaning, a lamentation on loneliness, and a tense tale of the infectious nature of ‘paranoia and fear.’ If you ask me, it’s a parable for our time.”
Carole Barrowman, Minneapolis Star Tribune

Bookreporter had this say about The Land:

“THE LAND is a marvelous novel, and there is no good place to stop reading it. One is never quite sure at all times if Lucien saw what he says he saw, because he is rarely certain himself. It makes for a haunting work that runs its tendrils across the back of the brain long after the last paragraphs have been consumed.”–Joe Hartlaub

Booklist wrote this review of The Land

“Maltman’s very dark novel deals dramatically with considerations of good and evil, of angels and demons, creating a visceral sense of danger…Metaphysics and mystery merge in this haunting, thought-provoking story.”

The FULL REVIEW is here or you can click on the hyperlink above:

“When beautiful Maura goes missing, 21-year-old Lucien, with whom she has been having an affair, goes in search of her. His quest leads him to the Rose of Sharon, a white-supremacist church where Maura’s husband, Eli, is the assistant pastor. Keeping his identity secret, Lucien—hoping to discover Maura’s whereabouts—ingratiates himself with the leaders of the church, including Mother Sophie, its blind founder who miraculously cures him of his migraines. It’s the winter of 1999, and Y2K looms, promising—so the Rose of Sharon’s white-supremacist congregation believes—the apocalypse. In the meantime, Lucien, a computer nerd, is developing a computer game called The Land, which coincidentally (not!) is the name of the supremacist camp. What are the hate-filled Rose of Sharon leaders planning? Maltman’s very dark novel deals dramatically with considerations of good and evil, of angels and demons, creating a visceral sense of danger, for Lucien’s life will be at risk if his identity and his relationship with Maura are discovered. Metaphysics and mystery merge in this haunting, thought-provoking story.”

— Michael Cart

“The tale of a broken man seeking a way to wholeness in body and spirit, The Land is a multi-layered journey through a bleak landscape filled with visions and ruminations on the nature of man and God. What Maltman offers readers is nothing less than a brilliant, compelling tale steeped in allegory and dripping with menace. Suspenseful, thought-provoking, and utterly unputdownable, The Land explores those frightening moments when every human being confronts both the devil outside and the devil within. Once again, Thomas Maltman proves himself to be among the finest writers publishing today.”
—William Kent Krueger, author of This Tender Land

“Thomas Maltman’s The Land is a gift to readers longing for a tale of lost love, fringe prophets, souls in cold suspension, and ravens that darken the skies of a Northern winter. Set against looming apocalypse and the clicking of a projector showing classic films, The Land is generous, intricate, and propulsive. It has a kind heart and a tear in its eye, and I enjoyed it completely.”
—Leif Enger, author of Peace Like a River

The Land gives us an unflinching look at the sad, strained logic of modern white supremacy. By turns lyrical and hallucinatory, it is also an angry, lonely love letter to the most isolated corners of the rural Midwest at the turn of the millennium, a mystery where the man trying to solve it is also increasingly a mystery to himself.”
—Chris Dennis, author of Here Is What You Do

The Land is a fine coming of age story, told in the convincing and thoroughly likable voice of Lucien Swenson, a young man in the throes of forbidden love as he recovers from a terrible accident. But where is Maura? . . . [A] well-built mystery, with unexpected guests, elements of horror, and hints of the supernatural, as Lucien’s migraines and other effects of his injuries have him seeing signs in the raw winter and questioning what’s real. I enjoyed every bit of this story and its conflicted cast of characters. An exceptional novel!”
Tim McCarthy, Boswell Book Company (Milwaukee, WI)

“This timely novel will appeal to readers who enjoy noir fiction as well as book clubs looking for a meaty, satisfying, and eloquent read . . . The Land is a book that begs to be read in one sitting and contemplated for eternity.”
—Pamela Klinger-Horn, Excelsior Bay Books (Excelsior, MN)

To read any FULL of Little Wolves review, simply click the hyperlink:

Booklist:  “In gorgeous prose, Maltman conjures both the irrational suspicion and the heartwarming connections forged in a small town during times of trauma.”

Writing for The Christian Science Monitor, Yvonne Zipp says:  “At its heart, “Little Wolves” is a powerful mystery…with a lyrical style that is anything but ripped from the headlines, Maltman combines mythology and small-town claustrophobia to show how the roots of the violence were planted before Seth was born.”

At Curled Up with a Good Book Luan Gaines promises: “Everything about this novel is memorable: its remote setting; the vivid, damaged characters; the questing Clara blooming with child, teacher and near-friend to Seth; Grizz Fallon, grieving father acting to protect his son even after death; a minister struggling to communicate with his reluctant flock. Maltman’s prose is vivid and evocative, rendering place and event in striking images, from Clara’s fable strewn memories to Fallon’s determination to give his son a proper burial. There is mystery, danger and horror in Lone Mountain, ugly secrets to be exposed, the commonplace cruelties of rural life and the twisting of the human psyche perpetrating monstrous acts on the helpless, a young man marching through the streets with a loaded rifle and a young woman about to learn her mother’s tragic story. This is a novel to be shared and savored, fiction at its finest, infused with tragedy and truth.”

Excerpts from Carole Barrowman’s lovely review in the Star Tribune and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

“To recommend Minnesota writer and poet Thomas Maltman’s evocative mystery “Little Wolves” — a novel seething with a disturbing darkness prompted from a monstrous act of violence — in the aftermath of recent horrors may seem too soon. But it’s not. Because when words fail us, it’s our poets, writers like Maltman, who help us confront “the Other,” whose stories possess us, keep us in place when we contemplate “madness or escape.”…

“Little Wolves” is textured with the language of poetry that at times took my breath away. In ways, it reminded me of Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road.” Although Maltman’s novel is grounded in a recognizable reality, it’s as rich in myth and metaphors, small and sweeping….”

In an excellent review in the Pioneer Press, Mary Ann Grossman writes:

“Myths and stories, ghosts and protective coyotes blend in this psychological mystery. Magical story, magical writing.”

Little Wolves picked up a STARRED review in Library Journal, which gave this verdict:

“Maltman’s second novel (after the acclaimed The Night Birds) is a powerful mix of tragedy, myth, psychological thriller, and discovery told in a style so engaging that the reader might easily get caught up in the beauty of the words if the story itself were not so stunning. [See Prepub Alert, 7/22/12.]—Thomas Kilpatrick, formerly with Southern Illinois Univ. Lib., Carbondale

At School Library Journal reviewer John Sexton writes:

Little Wolves is a brooding mystery whose sadness and yearning for understanding in the aftermath of senseless violent tragedy reflect the moody confusion that that is all too common in contemporary America. The story is layered with literary and mythic allusions owing to Clara’s doctoral studies in Nordic language and mythology and is more complex and dependent upon character development than most mysteries. Teens who appreciate the atmospherics of a psychological thriller–one tinged with prairie mysticism and close encounters with coyotes (the “little wolves” that Seth had raised)–will find this a satisfying and unforgettable read.”

The Grand Rapids Herald says “Little Wolves is beautifully written, both in the style of prose and pacing of the narrative.”–Nathan Bergstedt

At Shelf Awareness, Bruce Jacobs, says that “Thomas Maltman packs a lot of story, myth and mystery into the southwestern Minnesota setting of Little Wolves…Maltman (winner of the 2008 Spur award for The Night Birds) knows small-town prairie people and the secrets that underlie a community life of high school football games and church pageants…Saturated with violence, Anglo-Saxon mythology and parochial pettiness, Maltman’s novel is an unsettling work of first-rate fiction.”

Writing for Baton Rouge’s The Advocate, Ben Martin notes:  “Maltman’s characters know evil and sin. They believe in ghosts and their dominion. They impose the past upon the present. They mete out brutality to their neighbors and expect the same in return. Their stories coalesce to create a novel of rare power. As their pastor, Logan Warren preaches salvation through forgiveness. His is a lonely voice on the high prairie.”

At the Spencer Daily Reporter, reviewer Kate Padilla says:  “Little Wolves offers a story of grittiness of humanity, where anti-heroes arise from the fields. Full of suspense, this novel consistently includes the fog of a supernatural being, though the only presences that show are the ones from within the characters themselves, simultaneously representing dark and light…”Little Wolves” is a gorgeously written novel and will leave the reader haunted from the moment they begin.”

The Best of the Web:

At Book Chase, Sam Sattler says:  “Thomas Maltman has written a complicated novel, one that can be read and enjoyed on several levels.  The novel has the kind of action that most pleases thriller fans, and the mystery at its core is an intriguing one.  Even better, it is filled with well-developed characters (of the hard-to-like, but easy-to-understand variety) and a complicated set of dual plots (filled with literary references) that tie together beautifully at the end…Now that I think about it, maybe I should have called it a “literary page-turner.”

There’s a cool podcast at Books on the Nightstand, where Michael Kindness talks about what makes Little Wolves unique.

At Booksquawkwriter J.S. Colley describes the novel as “thrilling, disquieting, and mesmerizing.”  She compares Little Wolves to Kent Haruf’s Plainsong, while calling it “a great read.”

The prepublication review at BrodartVibe by Cathi Rooth opens with this paragraph:  “Little Wolves is a novel that successfully weaves many strands of narrative and theme into a supremely cohesive and satisfying whole. One of the reasons I chose this book for review was that it promised tie-ins to Norse mythology and folklore, a very exciting prospect for me.  As they are woven into the narratives, they become a seamless part of the story.”  She goes on to say: “I wholeheartedly recommend Little WolvesI finished it with a feeling of deep satisfaction and with the desire to rush out to the library and get Maltman’s first novel,The Night Birdswhich I had missed when it first came out.  I can think of no better compliment to the author!”

Maggie Gust with Coastal Breeze News says that:  “Using Norse mythology and Clara’s own tales of a wolf child, Maltman expertly weaves a narrow thread of mysticism into the story. The little wolves are actually three coyotes that Seth Junior befriended years prior and these “wolves” are the device the author uses to link Clara with the deceased Seth…Thomas Maltman is a master wordsmith and storyteller. He seasons this story with just about the perfect amount of every ingredient. There is literally (pardon the pun) never a dull moment in this book.”

“IN MALTMAN’S LITTLE WOLVES GRITTY REALISM MEETS SUPERNATURAL LORE,” Lydia Melby writes at the Flyway Journal of Writing and the Environment:

“Ultimately, the considerable strength of Little Wolves lays in how deftly the author evokes his lovely, unsettling landscape—dropping readers into a scene, a fear, a town, a way of life. Even as the plot grows chaotic, Maltman’s prose does not falter—many passages caught my breath and brought me back to reread and savor, like the passage below, as Grizz broods over a rifle, “a cold deadweight… the farm boys in this stretch of country grew up with.”

This moment, eerily relevant today, is just one of many that echo in the reader’s skull. And that, perhaps, is the mark of a fine novel—not the number of loose threads or missing answers, but rather something that strikes deep enough that we care enough to circle these stranded questions hours, days, even weeks after we have closed the book.”

One of my favorite reviews comes from The Internet Review of Books.  I love that Sue Ellis compares the novel to an “oboe,” writing that “it begins with a series of low, haunting notes.”  She goes on to say that “[w]ith each divergent element of the story’s beginning, I was drawn in deeper, instinctively pulling the reading lamp closer to my favorite chair.”  Her final note is stirring:  “Little Wolves is magical, with the feel of a classic. And if you get the impression that the story is wrapped entirely in darkness, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at some stunning moments of tragicomedy, and at the uplifting ending. It’s made my list of ideas for gift-giving this year.”

At Linus’s Blanket, Nicole Bonia says: “One of the things that I liked most about reading this novel was its richness, beauty and ambiguity. This isn’t a story that wraps up neatly and it mimics real life in ways that was a marvel to me. The stories that Clara’s father told her may hide the secret of her parentage, or they may be stories told to amuse a child, or they may be a form of revenge. Which is it? And is there really an answer that is clear cut? The town is suffering from drought and stifling resentment among its inhabitants, and juxtaposed with its history, you really wonder if a curse is working its way through their lives. Are they paying for “the sins of the father”? What do any of these bits and pieces have to do with what has happened? Not everything is lines up neatly, but there is enough to hint at the whole in a way that is very satisfying, and the history and stories imparted are equal parts rough, exquisite and sad.

Little Wolves is evocative, beautifully written and steeped in strange tales and tragedy masquerading as and mixed in with rich history and old wounds. I could scarcely put it down. Highly recommended.”

I’ve been enjoying listening to Hillary Huber’s narration for the audio edition of my novel.  She does such a great job inhabiting the characters.  Jennifer at The Literate Housewife agrees!  She writes:  “Until I began Little Wolves, I’d never listened to a Hillary Huber narration. It was an excellent introduction to her work. Her smoky voice blended perfectly with the novel’s landscape. While a pregnant Clara is one of the central characters, it is heavily populated with men. Hillary expertly gave voice to them all as individuals. I can so easily picture Grizz with that gravely, life-stained voice. From soft to gruff, she brought the characters and their stories to life with grace….Reading Little Wolves during the stark and dreary days of January felt right. The story and Hillary Huber’s narration reinforced the landscape and sentiment of the novel…I was engaged with the story throughout. It was important to me to know what happened and why. This novel felt authentically Midwestern and has all of the determination of the people who work the land there. It’s a gritty, intelligent novel that translated well to audio.”

Librarian LeAnn Suchy, writing for Minnesota Reads, calls Little Wolves a “literary thriller because [she]raced through this novel, but it’s not a page turner in the typical sense. This is a character driven, emotional look at small town life with characters struggling to answer why and looking to the past for resolution. It’s full of folklore, mythology, mystery, and even a little bit of magical realism, and I loved it…

This really is a beautiful, chilling read. At times I got goose bumps, other times I gasped, and I often felt sympathy for these characters. With all revealed in the end, this is the type of novel I want to immediately read again with new, enlightened eyes.”

Netgalley Devours wrote in a glowing review that “Little Wolves is a story full of quiet grief and malice. Although the story starts with a literal bang, the protagonists are left to wade through a miasma of questions—why did he do it? How could I have prevented it? Who am I? How do I move on?

This is a novel that lives in the grey-area between past and present, good and evil, power and weakness. Maltman weaves the lives of his characters together into tighter and tighter knots, giving us more than a simple mystery. Wolves and ghosts roam the realistic narrative (it’s based on true events) and I love this book for its stark portrait of a small-town dealing with tragedy and the individuals within that community who can’t simply accept that everything is as it appears.”

Publisher’s Weekly calls the novel as “powerful” and says “Maltman skillfully evokes oppressive smalltown life and the far-reaching consequences of violence.”

I’m honored by this eloquent review which appears in Stratton Magazine up in Vermont.  Sentences like this really soar:  “There are moments in Thomas Maltman’s novel, Little Wolves, when you can feel a chill passing through you. It isn’t solely the author’s literary evocation of the brutal winter climate in Minnesota, where the temperature gets so low that trees crack like rifle fire and the wind joins its voice with the howling of coyotes, sounding like like a convocation of lost souls in the night.”  The Book Page reviewer, writing for the Northshire Bookstore also says the novel “has a haunting quality to it that summons up reactions in the reader that transcend the many tributaries of its complex plot. Mr. Maltman even interweaves a folktale that perfectly compliments the central narrative’s allusions to ghosts and werewolves, to unmarked Indian graves and unhallowed ground.”   If this sounds spooky, don’t worry!  The review ends on a hopeful note:  “A few of them — in a very real sense — have found the courage to confront the past. It is a long trek in from the cold, but Little Wolves provides a memorable journey.

At Tzer Island Book Blog, the reviewer writes: “Creepy and atmospheric, Little Wolves mixes two kinds of horror — awful reality and fear of the supernatural — while building suspense with the steadiness of precision machinery. The emphasis, as it should be in a truly frightening novel, is on the horror that lurks in human behavior…All of these (pardon the expression) haunting questions give the reader an incentive to keep turning pages, as does Thomas Maltman’s vibrant prose. The story borrows from legends and mythology while remaining grounded in the desperation of rural life. Little Wolves often straddles a line between supernatural and worldly horrors, creating unrelenting suspense from the uncertain perils Clara and the other characters must face…While Seth and Grizz and the sheriff and Clara’s father are of more immediate concern to the reader, perhaps the entire town should seek forgiveness for its judgmental treatment of residents it views as outsiders. Maltman asks the reader to decide which central characters deserve to be forgiven. Writing with penetrating insight, he makes it possible to forgive them all.”

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