Evil is invisible, and it is everywhere. In this gripping reimagining of one of America’s most fascinating historical moments, that is the only way to explain the misfortunes that plague the Donner Party wagon train. 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.
Based partly on a real-life event that tells the story of a group of American pioneers who set out for California in a wagon train led by George Donner and James Reed, in May of 1846. Their journey entailed a number of problems and delays, which ultimately caused their entire party to become stranded in the mountains of Sierra Nevada during the start of early and extremely brutal winter. The party has minimal and bare supplies left when they realize they have become stranded and are now starving, and are eventually forced to resort to cannibalism in order to survive.
The Hunger starts out a little slow, and I have to admit that I found myself beginning to get a little worried as I was reading through the first chapter, but it wasn’t long that I realized it was picking up the pace and becoming very hard for me to put down. I truly wanted to keep reading this in one sitting, but that just wasn’t possible. With that said, just know that the book takes its time letting the reader understand the hardships and perils of moving by wagon train across the country in 1846. Not only that, but the author spends plenty of time on flashbacks that give each character much more of a backstory.
The Hunger goes on to tell that at some point along the trail George Donner becomes the leader of the group, and this is how his name is forever associated with one of the most horrific stories in American history. The author incredibly weaves in the addition of paranormal elements to the already horrific experiences, which somehow made it not seem like fiction at all. That was just incredible to me. Not only does she give depth, personalities, and backstories to every character, she also mixes in lots of brutal death. Be warned, however, there will be moments sexual abuse of children, incest, and abuse of certain wives are indicated as well.
As the group continues west, rations start to disappear and tensions mount. Too many of the men feel that they are better suited to lead the party, especially after a boy goes missing while they are camped, and they later find his mutilated body. The group wants to blame the incident on animals or even Indians in the area, but all of them know that the boy’s body is mutilated far beyond what any man or animal is capable of, and each person who saw the body starts to entertain thoughts of something more sinister possibly following the wagon train.
Unfortunately, the books ending seemed to fall somewhat flat. Throughout the book, the author gives this huge buildup and then chooses to simply back off for safety reasons. Or at least this is what it felt like to me. I’d have truly enjoyed it so much more if she would have just thrown us the punches we had been waiting all this time for. We were prepared for it, and we never got it. I felt a little cheated in fact, but overall, this was her book and I still enjoyed it very much. I also think this would make for a great movie as well!
About the book Author
Alma Katsu is the author of The Hunger, The Taker, The Reckoning, and The Descent. She has been a signature reviewer for Publishers Weekly and a contributor to The Huffington Post. She is a graduate of the master’s writing program at Johns Hopkins University and received her bachelor’s degree from Brandeis University. Prior to the publication of her first novel, Katsu had a long career as a senior intelligence analyst for several U.S. agencies and is currently a senior analyst for a think tank. She lives outside of Washington, D.C., with her husband.
Title: The Hunger
Author: Alma Katsu
Published Date: March 6, 2018
Genre: Horror Fiction, Occult Fiction
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Format: Hardcover, Kindle
Pages: 376 pages
Reviewed by: Sarah Hopkins
Our Rating: 4.2 /5
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