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Cold Earth: A Novel Paperback – April 13, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Moss's eerie, sophisticated debut novel drops readers into the middle of Greenland's Arctic summer during an archeological dig to unearth traces of lost Viking settlements. A team of three men and three women from the United States and Europe - each with their own dramatic histories - settles into uneasy domesticity, worried about a looming pandemic that threatens to annihilate the world. Meanwhile, ghosts of the ruins haunt neurotic Englishwoman Nina (already the least qualified of the six), making her companions even edgier. To further complicate matters, the group's remote location cripples communication with the outside world, and a fatal mistake by the team leader makes the archeologists realize how hopelessly ill-equipped they are for the looming winter. Moss uses letters written by her characters to their loved ones as an intimate first-person narrative device; while this works well in sections, the form feels contrived at times. Nevertheless, the correspondence amplifies their struggle and endears them to the reader. While the fear of a worldwide pandemic may have diminished since the writing of this book, Cold Earth still serves as a chilling reminder of the fragility of human existence.
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Review

Praise for Cold Earth

“I’m not one for thrillers . . but Cold Earth had too many good ingredients to pass up . . . Moss draws six unforgettable individuals, through their interactions with fellow archeologists and through letters home to their loved ones. Bugs in amber, carbon in ice—a reader watches their existence constrict to survival.” —Los Angeles Times

“In stripped-down prose that never reveals too much, first-novelist Moss conjures an increasingly creepy atmosphere, the isolation and stark beauty of the Greenland coast, and the rigors of survival in a harsh environment.” —Booklist

Praise for the U.K. edition of Cold Earth

"It is almost perfect . . . This is an unusually promising first novel." —Times Literary Supplement (London)

"Few first novels are as topical as this . . . There is a lot to enjoy." —Financial Times (London)

"Moss's stark writing delivers stinging splashes of cold water. Every element is distilled for purity of purpose." —The Times (London)

"A heart-tingling story." —Metro (London)

"One of the most powerful and gripping debut novels I have ever read." —Scarlett Thomas, author of The End of Mr. Y

"An astounding piece of imaginative fiction taking the reader to the ends of the earth." —Bookseller (London)

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Counterpoint (April 13, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582435790
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582435794
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.8 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #837,320 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Luan Gaines HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 9, 2011
Format: Paperback
Whether a pandemic or the effects of global warming pose the more serious threat to man's sojourn on earth, Sarah Moss assembles a team of archeologists from England, Scotland and the US to face their own test in a tale of psychological suspense in a dramatic landscape where winter is uninhabitable. The team of archeologists has arrived in Greenland's arctic summer to catalog tracings of lost Viking settlements. In alternating chapters, each character narrates the experience, the interactions of the members as they perform their appointed tasks and the gradual deterioration of camaraderie that settles over the camp. Echoes of the Viking's turbulent past are felt more substantively by Nina, who has left a boyfriend behind to accompany her friend, Yanni, the leader of the expedition.

Form the first, Nina is haunted by eerie dreams, the howls of fear, the screams of battle and the blood-soaked fields of snow covered in mutilated bodies. In contrast to Nina's unprofessional behavior, Ruth is capable and precise, shielding the loss of her loved one from the others and resistant to Nina's increasing hysteria, her growing insistence that they are not alone. Catriona, an artist at heart, falls in love with the ice, how she might translate it on canvas; Ben, from the north of England, says little and Jim, an American, relies on his Christian faith for the strength to endure a growing dread when the internet reports a spreading pandemic before all communication with the outside world is cut off.

With decreasing food supplies and the stress of sleeplessness as Nina's screams rend the night, the group struggles to retain focus, worries of home nagging everyone as they hunker down to the daily tasks Yanni assigns.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By digger on December 7, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Six archaeologists spend a short field season in remote Greenland; an unusual setting for a novel? Perhaps, but it is what author Sarah Moss does with it that makes 'Cold Earth' such an enjoyable read. Combining the past and present of Greenland along with that of the six characters and the homes they left behind, Ms. Moss weaves a character study of individuals enduring both internal demons and external stresses and by delivering the story via letters home from each character, she allows the reader six perspectives including autobiographical ones. So effective was this method, I found myself cheating and looking ahead to see whose letter, and thus whose viewpoint, was next.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Karon E. Waybright on October 24, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed the book, but it just ended. The main story was attention grabbing, the back story was mysterious, the individual story lines were intersting, but it just ended. There was almost no finish to the story itself, and everything else was just left.
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Format: Paperback
I enjoyed this in-depth character study/ghost story that takes place during an archeological dig in Greenland.

Six archeologists fly into an abandoned Viking site to try and figure out what happened to the Vikings and why they left so many centuries ago. Very poorly prepared and worried about a worldwide pandemic, the six work on the dig and try to keep their sanity, even as they lose communications and run short on food.

I especially liked the idea of the letters being written to family/friend/therapist by the members of the dig when they believe they are dying. The letters allow the reader to get to know each of the workers in ways that mere conversation would not.

Bitter cold, darkness, fear, lack of food - all these factors bring out the true inner people on the dig.
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By Jackson on September 17, 2010
Format: Paperback
My intention was to quickly browse this first novel, but I could not put it down after the first page, and only the lateness of the hour made me reluctantly stop my initial reading after the first one hundred pages. The interior lives of her characters come alive, and the tension lines as the characters are revealed through letters to loved ones create a taut edginess and anxiety that is masterful. This book has flow, and a sense of impending doom that is palpable. This is a story that is hard to put into a category-is it a mystery? a ghost story? a dystopian novel? One thing is certain-it is a very good book,and my friends and I will be talking about this one. I can't wait for them to read it, and for the author to finish her next novel.
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