Winter Animals – Ashani Lewis
In one of America’s Happiest Cities, Elen is trapped under the shadow of the snow-capped Cascade Mountains. Her husband has left her. Her belongings are in the boot of her car. Her days are filled mostly with silence and drinking. When she meets four English teenagers in an empty bar, she is enamoured.
The teenagers are wealthy squatters, drifting between ski resorts and breaking into empty AirBnBs. As they welcome Elen into their group, she senses a violent secret that fuels the four’s never-ending disappearing act, simmering beneath the well-oiled machine of their socialist bliss.
Vibrant and cultish, they force Elen to ruminate on the irresistible pull of bright young things. She cannot understand what they want from her – but why would Elen leave when she has nowhere else to go?
A dark meditation on the dangers and seductive power of youthful idealism, and the slippages between friendship and love, Winter Animals is an extraordinary debut examining freedom, friendship, desire and excess.