A man wakes up in present-day Alaskan wilderness with no idea who he is, nothing on him save an empty journal with the date 1898 and a mirror. He sees another man hunting nearby, astounded that they look exactly alike. After following this other man home, he witnesses a wife and child that brings forth a rush of memories of his own wife and child, except he’s certain they do not exist in modern times—but from his life in the late 1800s. After recalling his name is Wyatt, he worms his way into his doppelganger Travis Barlow’s life.
Memories become unearthed the more time he spends, making him believe that he’d been frozen after coming to Alaska during the Gold Rush and that Travis is his great-great grandson. Wyatt is certain gold still exists in the area and finding it with Travis will ingratiate himself to the family, especially with Travis’s wife Callie, once Wyatt falls in love. This turns into a dangerous obsession affecting the Barlows and everyone in their small town, since Wyatt can’t be tamed until he also discovers the meaning of why he was able to be preserved on ice for over a century.
A meditation on love lost and unfulfilled dreams, The Ancestor is a thrilling page-turner in present day Alaska and a historical adventure about the perilous Gold Rush expeditions where prospectors left behind their lives for the promise of hope and a better future. The question remains whether it was all worth the sacrifice….
After reading the synopsis I was immediately hooked by the book’s unique concept. I’ve never read anything like it and I enjoyed following the personal journey of the lead characters. It’s a well written thriller with aspects of historical and noir within it.
It’s an original idea with a really interesting main character, Wyatt. He’s likeable to begin with, but as his past unfolds, his memories reveal twists and turns that ultimately add more depth to his character. I think Wyatt’s complexity keeps the story intense and incredibly emotive.
The other main character, Travis grows throughout the book. In the start he’s quite forgettable compared to Wyatt, but quickly becomes more relatable as the reader learns more about him.
All of Travis’ family members battle with different demons within the story, which adds a brilliant depth to the story and to these secondary characters. It’s well-thought out, engaging and beautifully written.
Considering the timeline of Wyatt’s life – it darts backwards and forwards through diary entries within the book – the story is really cohesive due to how well the world it’s grounded in is. You get a strong sense of what Alaska is like from vivid locations descriptions as well as cultural passages about the local tribes.
It’s difficult to get a time slip book right, but Goldberg succeeds effortlessly.
About the Author:
Lee Matthew Goldberg is the author of the novels The Desire Card, The Mentor, and Slow Down. He has been published in multiple languages and nominated for the 2018 Prix du Polar.
His new endeavor will be as the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Fringe Press and Fringe Digital, dedicated to publishing fiction that’s outside-of-the-box.
Find out more at leematthewgoldberg.com