Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden Phoenix, HK$112 Three Day Road begins with the kind of stilted, self-conscious prose that will worry readers, but then the jarring effect wears off and the power of narrative takes over. About a Native Canadian clan, two of whose brood fight at Ypres and the Somme during the first world war, it tells of friendship and family, as well as folklore and battle. The book begins with Niska, a healer and hunter who goes to meet one of the two young men she saw off to combat. She thinks she'll be welcoming back Elijah, but it's Xavier, her nephew, who is waiting to be taken home. With one leg amputated, and memories of his lost best friend, he is in such poor shape that she fears he won't survive the three-day journey through northern Canada. Boyden's debut elicited praise from many camps, not least from critics enamoured of his writing a first world war novel 'that is not just harrowing, but fresh' (The Sunday Telegraph). The book stoked a different passion in author Isabel Allende, who described it as 'a haunting story of survival and innocence shattered, of friendship, earth, redemption and love of the land'.