I do hope everyone’s had a thoroughly wonderful Christmas. I took full advantage of my mini festive blog break by lazily reading a few books that arrived just before the holidays (what a party animal, I know!) and I’m delighted to kick off 2017’s reviews with this little gem…
Publisher: Raven Books (Bloomsbury)
Publication date: 12th January 2017
The River At Night is a pacy, panic-driven story exploring the isolation of the vast wilderness on a trip of a lifetime, where quartet of friends minutely scrutinise themselves and each other when it all goes belly-up during a perilous, life-changing ordeal.
Any ‘break from civilisation’ tale is a fascinating subject as you can discover a lot about the characters from their actions, or lack of. Bizarrely, the allure of the feral outdoors offers temptation for these ladies hoping to inject something into their lives. But not everyone is totally committed to the challenge and it takes encouragement to mentally gear up for the white water rafting experience of a lifetime. Ha! What could possibly go wrong?!
The situation is not helped by their charming guide who is half their age with double the enthusiasm. Despite his qualifications and the aptly fearsome names for the rapids he plans to navigate, some of the group remain cautious. Soon the novelty of how they look in their orange life vests seems insignificant when they are dazed and dishevelled as a result of unexpected events.
Things escalate fairly quickly and I could feel the wild breathing down the necks of the amateurish pack. Familiar urban noises replaced by the snap of a twig, eerie solitude or creepy-crawlies striving to break the group en-masse. Spats and sulks ensue, their friendship recoils, and that promise of a wonderful experience runs for the hills with sense and reason following close behind.
The ordinariness of their ‘are we nearly there yet’ travels compared with the physically and psychologically diminished group they become is grimly compelling. Reading this in a single afternoon was like switching a film on the box where you might have to suspend belief in a few places and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what’s going to happen, but you just can’t tear yourself away from the screen to make a cuppa.
So yes. I was hypnotised by The River At Night and the threats from a remote, cinematic landscape, the forced sense of adventure, and an undiluted fear that can drive people close the edge. I liked it, a lot.
(I received a copy of this title from the publisher with my thanks and it’s my pleasure to provide this unbiased review.)
(Courtesy of Amazon UK)
Raw, relentless and heart-poundingly real, this book knocked me off my feet like a river in flood’ Ruth Ware, bestselling author of In a Dark, Dark Wood and The Woman in Cabin 10.
‘A thought came to me that I couldn’t force away: What we are wearing is how we’ll be identified out in the wilderness.‘
Win Allen doesn’t want an adventure.
After a miserable divorce and the death of her beloved brother, she just wants to spend some time with her three best friends, far away from her soul-crushing job. But athletic, energetic Pia has other plans.
Plans for an adrenaline-raising, breath-taking, white-water rafting trip in the Maine wilderness. Five thousand square miles of remote countryside. Just mountains, rivers and fresh air.
No phone coverage. No people. No help.
(Courtesy of Author’s website)
Erica Ferencik is a graduate of the MFA program in Creative Writing at Boston University. Her work has appeared in Salon and The Boston Globe, as well as on National Public Radio.