The Hunger (2018) – Alma Katsu

There is a sense of dread and menace that seems to ooze off the pages of Alma Katsu’s retelling of the haunting, and infamous Donner Party expedition. Everyone knows, or thinks they know the story, and Katsu uses that troubling knowledge and lets it hang over every page – you know each of the characters you meet and travel with in this book is doomed, but you can’t stop the story. You can’t stop reading.

The authenticity of the story that kept me reading and engaged even after I had cottoned to what the supernatural element of the story would be revealed to be. Katsu has a masterful way with words, and I could see the plains and mountains in my mind’s eye as I traveled with the wagon train, and its cast of characters, each with their own personality, a number with their own secrets, and all of them unprepared for the fate that they are about to meet.

I love how Katsu tells her story, grounding the characters and events in reality before twisting that dark story with a supernatural flair.

There’s an ominous feeling weighing on the pages, even as they fly through your fingers as you turn one after the other. Knowing going into the story that you can’t get connected to the characters because you are going to lose every single one of them doesn’t change the fact that you feel a connection with some of them anyway.

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But once that first body is discovered, on a wagon train that will soon be plagued by missing bodies, and worse, you know that nothing, and no one is going to be safe.

And yes, despite the fact that I figured out what the supernatural angle was going to be, it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story because of the way Katsu tells it. There’s a masterful hand guiding the prose laid out on the page, and I do believe it will cause me to go and seek out more of her tales.

It’s a frightening take on an already horrific factual event, augmented with terror and fear, and of course, an implacable Hunger…

This one ended up being a fast and easy read as I was completely hooked by the story by about the twentieth page. I loved the character interactions, the moments, the discoveries, and all the layers of characters and the way they interact with one another.

It’s a solid, scary read.

What scary books are you reading? Or what ones do you recommend? I’m always looking for the next book that’s going to get under my skin. What’s on your bedside table and firing your imagination?

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