A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The Hunger by Alma Katsu- Feature and Review


Evil is invisible, and it is everywhere.

Tamsen Donner must be a witch. That is the only way to explain the series of misfortunes that have plagued the wagon train known as the Donner Party. Depleted rations, bitter quarrels, and the mysterious death of a little boy have driven the pioneers to the brink of madness. They cannot escape the feeling that someone--or something--is stalking them. Whether it was a curse from the beautiful Tamsen, the choice to follow a disastrous experimental route West, or just plain bad luck--the 90 men, women, and children of the Donner Party are at the brink of one of the deadliest and most disastrous western adventures in American history.

While the ill-fated group struggles to survive in the treacherous mountain conditions--searing heat that turns the sand into bubbling stew; snows that freeze the oxen where they stand--evil begins to grow around them, and within them. As members of the party begin to disappear, they must ask themselves "What if there is something waiting in the mountains? Something disturbing and diseased...and very hungry?"



The HungerThe Hunger by Alma Katsu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Hunger by Alma Katsu is a 2018 G.P Putnam’s Sons publication.

Deeply engrossing!

The Donner Party is an epic tragedy that has been explored and analyzed for ages. It’s a gruesome and ghastly tale all on its own. But now, Alma Katsu has added a paranormal tint to the story which only adds yet another horrifying possibility into the mix.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book. It has been categorized as a horror novel and since it is centered around the Donner party, it certainly should fall within that genre. However, this is not your typical novel of horror by any means.

Bad luck plagued the Donner party from the start. The wagon train was filled with those hoping for a better future and those who were running away from problems, and those trying to make trouble.
Yet, in this re-imagining- the Donner Party was pursued by something worse than the winter storm of the century. Yes, food is running out, but the survivors are suffering from a different kind of hunger…

This is an ambitious novel, which features both real life characters-The Breen family, William Eddy, and The Donner’s, of course- and fictional ones, pitting them against the unusually harsh realities of a plan gone horribly awry as they make desperate choices just to survive, but also putting them into a supernatural element, offering an alternative theory about what may have been beleaguering the travelers.

The author did a fantastic job with describing the scenery, and an even better one with the character analysis. This story grabbed me right away and kept me glued to the pages from start to finish. It is atmospheric, and truly creepy, but I did feel lost on a few occasions wondering about the various conjectures implied. While the reader is focused on the puzzling ‘hunger’ that is quickly spreading, the true evil may be the one lurking in the hearts of humanity and the sinister motives behind their actions.

I was drawn more towards the characters and the horrible circumstances they found themselves in that the folklore and history of the ‘Hunger’. I did find the trail to the ‘carrier’ of the strange affliction to be quite interesting, although I still felt as though I was missing a key element, leaving me to draw my own conclusions.

Overall, this is a solid chiller, made all the more absorbing due to its basis in factual events. This is one you might want to read in the light of day- for to attempt it in the dark of night, may have consequences!





NPR 100 Favorite Horror Stories

Author of THE HUNGER, a reimagining of the Donner Party's tragic journey (Putnam);
THE TAKER, THE RECKONING and THE DESCENT (Gallery Books). The Taker was selected by ALA/Booklist as one of the top ten debut novels of 2011.

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