There will be a book five, but we'll talk about that in another post.
So, back to Ghostwalker.
Ghostwalker sees Derek back in Garson. Yes, he's made it back there after everything after all... but I wish I could say it was something he wanted to do. I won't spoil the end of Between Silence and Fire for those who haven't read it yet, nor will I spoil a single moment more of Ghostwalker either, but I can say that this book is the final chapter for everything going on in the downtown core. If you were wondering what had happened or why things happened the way they did in After Oil regarding Harnet, his people, and where they even came from I can say I answered those questions for you in Ghostwalker.
Now that I'm doing this blog as a podcast I can do something I haven't been able to do before, and that's a reading. So, the short part I've picked today is Derek--now back in Garson--and his reception once he's made it back there. It's in the first few chapters of the book, and relatively spoiler-free.
Excerpt from Ghostwalker
Derek Moss had given up hope of ever seeing it again. Not that after five years it was home anymore—it had simply become someplace he and his wife used to live.
Home was now back in Whitefish on the banks of the Vermillion River… and a whole world away.
But here he now stood.
Loose sand crunched underfoot. He kneeled in the sand and wiped off the dust from a blue sign. Derek held the sign marking that he was now in Garson and stood along the side of the abandoned road. He sighed as he looked up the slight incline and closed his eyes.
A small smile alighted on his face.
He had driven past here so many times before that he knew each turn and bump as well as he knew…
Derek knelt down and leaned the sign against the stumps of the posts that once held it. The ache he thought he had forgotten settled behind his chest and into his heart.
No point in standing here all day, he thought. The walk up the road between Coniston and Garson is long enough without me adding ‘in the dark’ to it.
Houses once lined this stretch but in the five years of freeze, thaw in the spring, the scorching heat of the sun and relentless sand blast that not even the replanted trees could stop had taken their toll. He suspected perhaps even human hand had also seen to this. With most of the population killed over the first winter alone those empty homes held supplies others could use.
Much like in Whitefish, Lively… and other places.
He should not have been surprised, or dismayed, at seeing it here when it could have only ever been the same. For all he knew his house had suffered the same fate.
And he was soon to find out.
The road here had never really been in good shape. It was hard to be when mining transport trucks ran up and down here every day. He caught himself. No, had was the proper thought. They did not travel here anymore. The road was quiet, and with five years of neglect was worse than ever even without any traffic on it anymore. The pavement was crumbling or had vanished entirely. Grass crept over it.
Derek came to a stop once he reached a crossroad by a church. Here, in one of the houses on the corner, a lonely maple tree—no more than a sapling—grew out of the foundation in the space between the bricks. This had, before, been a house with people in it. Not a new house, but not too old either. He had driven past this house almost every day and while he had not known the owner personally it was not easy to see the house wiped away almost like it had never been.
The space behind the houses had always been somewhat affectionately known as the pit. Twenty years ago it had been nothing more than a sand filled pit with nothing but scrub brush and blueberries growing here. Not long before they had seeded the sandy pit with trees and other plants in an effort to reclaim the pit and make it a bit more like it had been before the mines or logging.
It was this still empty space Derek cut through instead of streets and roads. By foot it was the quickest way from the road to Coniston over to where his house was just behind the strip mall.
He also did not want to attract the kind of attention that someone walking the roads would gain. This shortcut was something only someone from Garson would possibly know about and the trees afforded him some cover. Although he was sure there would some survivors who knew him he wanted to see what had become of his old home alone and without the audience.
Cutting quickly across the one street he needed to and over to the other side, and again running behind the houses instead of the street he finally crossed into his own yard.
He had known—ever since he blew the bridge in Lively and made peace with the changes—that if he did ever make it back here he would find exactly what he just had. The house with the lonely maple sapling growing out if it was his warning.
Like so many others there was no house standing, and nothing remained of his once carefully clipped grass and yard. If he had not counted the fences, what few still stood like silent sentinels against the encroaching pit sand, he would have never known a house had ever stood here.
Nothing remained of his former life.
Derek obviously has to work out a few things this book. Combined with being alone--without the backup afforded to him from his Rangers--he does have his work cut out for him.
Behind the Scenes of Ghostwalker
You could say that Ghostwalker is the culmination of nearly six years of work in this series. Research, writing, and rewrites, more editing... all the plotting... has finally paid off in the form of this book. Sudbury has a certain charm when it comes to using it as a setting, even if that setting is post-apocalyptic. There is so much history here. It's not a new city, and like Toronto, is made up of numerous smaller towns and cities that amalgamated into the City of Greater Sudbury to make it one large city... in the middle of Northern Ontario. You can see the city is a large city, even when zoomed out on Google Maps it still appears grey because of how built up it is.
|Sudbury, the lonely sentinel in the middle of the Northern wilderness.|
You can also see how far north of Toronto it really is. It is just slightly North of even Algonquin Provincial Park. Granted, there are other cities further north than Sudbury, but they aren't as large a centre as the CGS. As a side note, this is why our protagonists know something has gone drastically wrong with their civilization in After Oil, but not exactly what it was until much later... and then it just didn't matter anymore. By then, the important part was what they were doing to survive. How everything came to be was just a side note even if they were curious before. Food, shelter, and keeping out bandits just became their new priorities instead.
Sudbury is very interesting because, unlike Toronto which swallowed up their ghost towns as they spread out, that the ghost towns surrounding Sudbury are still there and, except in very few cases, untouched and simply forgotten except by those interested in them.
In Ghostwalker, Derek spends much of his time finding that the people have moved back into these ghost towns and revived them into working centres. The towns he now walks through, the ones that in real life are alive and thriving, have died and turned into the ghost towns instead. Without spoiling the book, I can at least hint that when Derek is in Garson (as hinted above), he finds his old home has been abandoned--worse yet, scavenged and picked over for supplies and building material. When he does find the survivors of Garson he discovers they have abandoned the town and let the sandy pit reclaim it in favour of other locations better suited to living off the resources around them--places with easily accessed fresh water, wood, and soil to grow crops... Places that had been abandoned in favour of a cityscape supplied by city infrastructure and access to paved roads.
Is Ghostwalker the last book of the Kingdom of Walden Series?
Well, I had planned for it to be the last book. But, due to reader demand, I have decided to keep writing for at least another book or two. In the back of Ghostwalker, like in the previous three, there is a short excerpt from the next book in the series. In this case, it's Red Sails, the fifth book of the Kingdom of Walden series which should be out in October of 2017.