Might as well be at ease. I'm never at ease.

~ February 2020 ~

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I guess the future needs ice cream.

~ January 2020 ~

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Even in the darkest times, hope cuts through.

~ December 2019 ~

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I'm just here for the donuts.

~ November 2019 ~

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“I don’t believe in monsters,” Stanton said. “Only men who behave like them.“

It's been a while since I've done a book review, hasn't it? Anyway the latest thing on my reading list was The Hunger by Alma Katsu, which promised a historical fantasy horror, and left me turning pages and jumping at sounds most of the night.

summary on the back: 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. 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?"

My thoughts: I'm a sap for historical fantasy, but I initially had some reservations over the idea of fusing an incredibly tragic and horrific part of history with the wendigo mythology. But The Hunger never sensationalizes the events, skillfully weaving well-researched accounts into a chillingly almost plausible scenario. It didn't really happen that way, of course, but you almost believe it did, and that's historical fantasy at its best.

The characters are interesting, but there's so many its difficult to keep track of them all, and only a few of them stand out as memorable. The strength of the book is in its tone, which starts slowly and builds to a nearly unbearable sense of dread as the group inches closer to their fate. The pacing is quite slow, but its well worth waiting for it to pick up. The monsters, not often portrayed and even less explained, are effectively mysterious, creepy, and horrifying. While restrained, and not nearly as disturbing as it could have been, the book does briefly discuss a couple animal deaths, child abuse, murder, an attempted suicide, and incest. Cannibalism appears far more frequently, but again, is very carefully handled and not sensationalized or overly gory. The ending, while optimistic, felt a bit abrupt to me. The writing is atmospheric and detailed, even overly-complicated in plot, but even so, there was so much more I wanted to know about, especially regarding the Native Americans. The ending, while optimistic, felt a bit abrupt to me.

The Hunger probably isn't for the faint for the heart, but personally I found it deeply engrossing and well worth the read.
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