Monday, 7 May 2018

The Road To Vermilion Lake by Vic Cavalli

The Road To Vermilion Lake by Vic Cavalli
Published in America by Harvard Square Editions in July 2017.

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the author

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository : from £18.73 (PB)
Wordery : from £12.79 (PB)
Waterstones : from £18.73 (HB)
Amazon : from $10.86 / £7.75 (ebook)
Prices and availability may have changed since this post was written

The Road to Vermilion Lake is set in the sublime interior mountains of British Columbia. There a young blaster's helper and industrial first-aid attendant (Thomas Neal Tems) meets an incredibly beautiful self-declared medieval woman (Johnny Nostal) and their electric love literally rocks the entire ecosystem.

Layering medieval, pioneer, and contemporary settings and fusing them within the context of depth psychology and the enduring submerged legacies of trauma, the novel affirms healing and the strength of love while also exploring the comic and yet potentially tragic relationship between the Canadian wilderness and the human desire to impose technological design and structure upon the few remaining pockets of untouched nature we have left.

I was intrigued by the isolated setting of The Road To Vermilion Lake and liked the first half of this book as we are taken through the Canadian wilderness alongside the road builders. Imagery, such as centuries-old dormant cacti pods being blasted into the sky as thousands of tons of rock is cleared, illustrates the massive endeavour to force a road through just seven miles of terrain, all so a resort can be built on the shores of a lake. Seeing all this from the point of view of a first aider provides an unusual angle, especially into the ease in which many construction accidents could be avoided - just wear the safety goggles folks!

I liked Thomas as a character. He is earnest, but comes across as a reliable narrator. Johnny is refreshingly different as the woman who captures his heart. The project's architect, she is more than just a pretty face and Cavalli doesn't turn her into an insipid doormat the moment love appears over the horizon although her insistence on being 'medieval' when this seemed to only come down to chastity and a liking for Gregorian chants is odd. I did have a problem with quite a lot of Thomas and Johnny's dialogue. Perhaps these people do have a particularly formal way of speaking, but I thought their conversations often felt unnatural and this held me back from completely believing their romance. I wasn't always convinced by the female supporting characters either. Sally's and especially Carole's appearances felt more like plot devices than genuine interactions and a couple of times I wondered if The Road To Vermilion Lake was a retelling of a mythical or biblical story I hadn't recognised.

I admit my interest in The Road To Vermilion Lake sadly waned during the second half as Thomas and Johnny discussing Catholicism and their relationship became the main focus. As readers, we are given extensive explanation of their emotions while formerly important secondary storylines conveniently resolve themselves. Perhaps romance readers would get more from this novel than I did and it does have its good points. However, overall, this just wasn't really one for me.

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Vic Cavalli / Romance fiction / Books from Canada


  1. It sounds like the romance bogged down this book. That's too bad.

    1. It was a shame, but possibly just for me. I think romance readers would appreciate this one more whereas I'm more of a dark side of life reader!!

  2. Sorry you didn't enjoy this as much as you hoped, I also don't often enjoy Romance in Books. Hopefully your next read is better!
    Tori @ In Tori Lex

  3. Dialogue can be so important to really shaping characters and the realistic element of the novel. I am glad you were able to like some of it but I don't think this is one I will be reading for myself.

    1. It was a shame as this one started out really well.