Syndney Morning Herald
By Cameron Woodhead
Ed O’Loughlin’s Minds of Winter embarks on an expedition into some of the enduring mysteries of polar exploration. A contemporary framing narrative sees two wanderers, Fay Morgan and Nelson Nilsson, meet in the frozen wilds of Canada, at remote Inuvik, well within the Arctic Circle. Each has a connection to enigmas of the ice, and the novel opens out into a slew of historical figures: Sir John Franklin, whose 1845 voyage to traverse the Northwest Passage ended in the loss of all hands (some likely to cannibalism); his tenacious wife, determined to discover his fate; Roald Amundsen, whose plane vanished in 1928 on a rescue mission; even “The Mad Trapper of Rat River”, a Canadian fugitive who prompted a large-scale polar manhunt. Easy for the reader to get lost in the author’s narrative labyrinth, but that’s part of this grand and ambitious book’s pleasure, too.