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robtwinem

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I live in Bristol UK literary fiction and crime are my books of choice and when not reading I like to run

History and horror smoothly blended

The Hunger - Alma Katsu

The hardcover of this book, due for release in early march, shows a horse drawn wagon heading out into uncharted territory. This represented the pioneering spirit of American settlers heading west for California who felt confident in the knowledge that they were destined to occupy this territory irrespective of the affect their actions might have on the indigenous native American tribes who already populated these regions. The Hunger recalls one particular group of travellers historically referred to as the "Donner Party", led by Jacob and George Donner, who in the spring of 1846 departed Springfield Illinois on a perilous 2500 mile journey their intended destination the Mexican province of alta California. Poor planning, bad decision and snowstorms caused a number of the original pioneers to become trapped in the mountains during the severe winter of 1846. When food ran out it was said that they resorted to cannibalism; the unthinkable had happened in order to survive.

 

Alma Katsu expertly uses the harsh unforgiving environment and that deep rooted human weakness, fear of darkness and the unknown, to instil in the travellers a paranoia that something evil is out there stalking them....."He saw teeth sharpened like iron nails, and too many of them, far too many-a long slick of throat, like a dark tunnel, and that horrible tongue slapping like a blind animal feeling for it prey."...Some excellent characterization really made the story come alive as long held dark secrets gradually emerged. James Reed owner of a large furniture business in Springfield, married to an older woman, yet tortured inwardly by personal feelings, dark thoughts and undisclosed encounters. Charles Stanton, the quiet anti-hero whom Mary Graves...."was giddily, stupidly, happily in love.".....Tamsen Donner, young bride to George Donner, her beauty and wayward ways causing discern and rumour amongst the gradually starving disillusioned pioneers. As bad weather, low rations, and poor decisions prevailed the.... "creatures that fed on human flesh".....selected and noisily consumed the weak and innocent.

 

What I loved about this novel was the seamless blending of historical facts with a modern horror theme, a wolf like predator with an unquenchable longing for human flesh. As a British reader I must confess to my ignorance of the Donner Party and was pleased that the author included an "historical note" which greatly added to my enjoyment of the overall story. There were many fine observations in this ill fated journey non better than a quote at the conclusion of chapter 21....."Then the Lord must be mightily displeased with you, because he has led you into the valley of death. Make peace with your Lord before it is too late, because the hungry ones are coming for you.".... Many thanks to the good people at netgalley for this gratis copy in exchange for an honest review and that is what I have written. Recommended.