Monday, March 6, 2017

Review: Revolver – Marcus Sedgwick

Revolver – Marcus Sedgwick

In an isolated cabin, fourteen-year-old Sig is alone with a corpse: his father, who has fallen through the ice and frozen to death only hours earlier. Then comes a stranger claiming that Sig’s father owes him a share of a horde of stolen gold. Sig’s only protection is a loaded Colt revolver hidden in the cabin’s storeroom. The question is, will Sig use the gun, and why?

Review: This is the fourth Sedgwick book I’ve read. It’s crazy how different they are from each other. Revolver is tiny—only about 200 pages—but like all of Sedgwick’s books, it was still stuck in my mind long after I finished it.

In the early 1900s, fourteen-year-old Sig and his family are on the run from a mysterious stranger who has chased them all over the Arctic. One day, Sig’s father falls through the ice and freezes to death. Sig is home alone with his father’s thawing body when the stranger shows up at their door. He says he will kill Sig if Sig doesn’t hand over the gold his father stole. There is a revolver in the cupboard. Should Sig kill the stranger, or is there another way to escape?

“There's always a third choice in life. Even if you think you're stuck between two impossible choices, there's always a third way. You just have to look for it.” – Revolver

I would have adored this book when I was a kid. It’s tense, fast-paced, and set in a variety of remote northern locations. For most of my childhood, I was obsessed with the gold rush and Arctic exploration. I was also a reluctant reader, so this book would have been perfect for me.

What I love most about Revolver is the atmosphere. There are very few characters. The setting is cold, quiet, and lonely. The reader is kept distant from Sig, which builds mystery. This is one of those books that almost crackle with tension. You don’t know who to trust, but you know that the story is going to end badly for someone. I read fast because I needed to know if Sig would shoot the stranger.

The story is deceptively simple. On the surface, it’s about a standoff in a cabin between a fourteen-year-old boy and a cunning old man. Underneath, it’s about gun violence. It’s very easy to pull the trigger of a gun, but could you live with the consequences of killing someone?

“He'd watch the loading and unloading of boats; the building of houses, shacks, and huts; and above all, the people, each carrying a bundle of stories inside them.” – Revolver

Obviously, I love this book, but I do have a few issues with it. Part of the story is told in flashbacks. The flashbacks are necessary to understand why Sig’s on the run, and they’re not very long, but I was tempted to skim them. The present-day story is way more interesting than the flashbacks. I wanted to read about the cabin with Sig and the gun. I wasn’t as interested in how he ended up there.

12-year-old me with sled dog.
Also, it’s weird how tiny details can yank you out of a story. The characters in this book often travel by dogsled. I’ve probably spent more hours on dogsleds than the average modern girl, and I was slightly confused by the descriptions of sleds in the book. The characters sometimes grab the sled’s gangline while standing on the runners, but you can’t reach the gangline from the runners on any sled (historic or modern) that I’ve ever seen. Eventually I puzzled out that the sleds in the book have reins. I’ve never seen a dogsled with reins. Maybe they exist somewhere in the world? This tiny detail distracted me so much that I closed the book, Googled photos of historic dogsleds, and squinted at my computer screen to see all their parts. This is probably not what the author intended.

Despite my fixation on stupid things, I had fun reading Revolver. It’s like a throwback to the books I read as a kid. It’s perfect for Arctic-obsessed people and anyone who likes a tense, quick story.

16-year-old me dressed like a frozen marshmallow. Also, sled dogs.

That's 16-year-old me on the runners of that sled.


  1. I've yet to read anything by Sedgwick. I think this is his only book that's on my TBR. "Perfect for Arctic-obssessed people" - I'm not quite obssessed (yet...) but the setting is the main reason why I put this on my TBR :P Glad you recommend it. (Love your photos! Thanks for sharing.)

  2. I haven't read anything by the author but this sounds interesting. I hate when there are flashbacks in a story and I prefer the present - even when they are necessary. Love all your pictures - they are so cool!!

    1. Thanks! I don’t mind flashbacks, but in this case, the present-day story was more suspenseful.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

  3. I just skimmed enough of the bolded words to gather that you liked it. I was blown away by Midwinterblood and thought Snow White Blood Red was interesting, if not as enjoyable overall, so I'm looking forward to reading this one too.

  4. I don't think that I have read anything by Marcus Sedgwick but I think we might have recently bought one of his books. This sounds like a book that I would really like. Thanks for sharing the pics of you and the sled dogs :)

  5. I read two of Sedgwick's books (Midwinterblood and The Ghosts of Heaven) and loved them both so much so I am so excited to see that this is just as good. His books are just so intelligently written and thought-provoking. Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! <3

    ~ Zoe @ Stories on Stage