The River at Night by Erica Ferencik
Published by Gallery/Scout Press on January 10, 2017
Genre(s): fiction, adventure, thriller
Format & Length: e-book, 304
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A “raw, relentless, and heart-poundingly real” (Ruth Ware, New York Times bestselling author) thriller set against the harsh beauty of the Maine wilderness, The River at Night charts the journey of four friends as they fight to survive the aftermath of a white water rafting accident.
Winifred Allen needs a vacation.
Stifled by a soul-crushing job, devastated by the death of her beloved brother, and lonely after the end of a fifteen-year marriage, Wini is feeling vulnerable. So when her three best friends insist on a high-octane getaway for their annual girls’ trip, she signs on, despite her misgivings.
What starts out as an invigorating hiking and rafting excursion in the remote Allagash Wilderness soon becomes an all-too-real nightmare; a freak accident leaves the women stranded, separating them from their raft and everything they need to survive. When night descends, a fire on the mountainside lures them to a ramshackle camp that appears to be their lifeline. But as Wini and her friends grasp the true intent of their supposed saviors, long buried secrets emerge and lifelong allegiances are put to the test. To survive, Wini must reach beyond the world she knows to harness an inner strength she never knew she possessed.
With intimately observed characters and visceral prose, The River at Night “will leave you gasping, your heart racing, eyes peering over your shoulder to see what follows from behind” (Mary Kubica, New York Times bestselling author). This is a dark exploration of creatures—both friend and foe—that you won’t soon forget.
The River at Night is a thriller about four friends who take their annual girls trip to go whitewater rafting for the first time and things don’t exactly work out as planned.
“My terror of being alone had one result: I was alone.”
Told through one of the friend’s perspectives, this took a little while to get going, but after about 50 pages or so, the tension began to rise. In some ways, The River at Night read like a few separate books mashed together. The first half was decidedly more character driven until the plot kicked in to take the story nearly to its close, finally ending on a more contemplative note. Although I understand the reason for setting up the characters and their backstories first, I would have preferred the balance to feel more seamless.
That being said, there are several things this novel does well. First, the scene is set beautifully, with vivid descriptions that added incredible atmosphere. Second, the characters were all unique (although some were more likable than others) and the way they each responded differently to the stress of their situation felt realistic. And third, the adventure was gripping. Once I got to the plot driven portion, I couldn’t put the book down.
“Once one mystery was solved, isn’t there always another lying just beneath?”
Ultimately, The River at Night was an entertaining read but it didn’t necessarily wow me either, so I have to go middle of the road on this one.