The Hunger


The Hunger

By:  Alma Katsu
Published:  2018
# of pages:  384 (Kindle edition)


Goodreads description:  

Evil is invisible, and it is everywhere. 

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 isolated travelers to the brink of madness. Though they dream of what awaits them in the West, long-buried secrets begin to emerge, and dissent among them escalates to the point of murder and chaos. They cannot seem to escape tragedy…or the feelings that someone–or something–is stalking them. Whether it’s a curse from the beautiful Tamsen Donner (who some think might be a witch), their ill-advised choice of route through uncharted terrain, or just plain bad luck, the ninety men, women, and children of the Donner Party are heading into one of one of the deadliest and most disastrous Western adventures in American history.

As members of the group begin to disappear, the survivors start to wonder if there really is something disturbing, and hungry, waiting for them in the mountains…and whether the evil that has unfolded around them may have in fact been growing within them all along.

My review:  I’ve heard of the Donner Party before, but all I knew was that it was about pioneers who resorted to cannibalism on their journey.  I started reading The Hunger, but after the first page I realized it would be helpful if I read more about the true events before reading a horror version.  So I went on Wikipedia and read about the Donner family and their traveling companions.  I read it all and honestly, it was just as fascinating and horrifying as the novel.

What Katsu does in this historical fiction horror is expand on the true events.  It’s a great idea to take what really happened and instead of simply leaving it at this group’s methods of survival, Katsu made their thoughts and decisions into something more physical.

I think it’s always risky taking real people and giving them fictional personalities and thoughts.  This novel takes the real people of Tamsen Donner, James Reed, Mary Graves, and Charles Stanton and follows them along their arduous journey through the Sierra Nevadas.  The Wikipedia article didn’t give any clue as to their personalities, but Katsu made them interesting and realistic.  I liked that each had a secret that started to emerge as they passed the point of no return on their journey.

I would have liked a little more consistency.  Sometimes it was hard to understand why the characters were making their decisions and how they were relating to each other.  But perhaps this just added to the mystery.  There were a few things here and there that didn’t make sense, but it’s not such a deep read that I was upset about that, I just enjoyed the story.

Why I gave this book 4/5 stars:  Interesting and original re-telling of an historical event, creepy without being too disturbing.

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