Angus Peter Campbell's Archie and the North Wind
Enchanting in parts, but not a wholly compelling or intriguing tale
To temper the harsh winters and escape an unhappy marriage and dreary life on a Scottish island, Archie leaves to find and cover the hole where the North Wind blows. Working as a crewman, he heads north, accompanied by a Russian composer nicknamed Brawn blowing smoke from every orifice, a deaf woman he tries to love, a smithy, goblin, his ship’s captain, an Irish kitchen hand, and a Chinese-Texan oilman. When he reaches an Arctic oil drilling rig, his search ends.
Angus Peter Campbell clearly enjoys language and creating imagery, and his folkloric touches are enchanting. However, aside from Brawn describing the gulag in language so poetic it amplifies the horror, none of the characters are sufficiently well-developed to be particularly engaging. Archie’s otherworldliness and naivety seem self-conscious and a little contrived at times and neither his quest nor his character are intriguing enough to make the tale wholly compelling.