“Win Allen doesn’t want an adventure.
After a miserable divorce and the death of her beloved brother, she just wants to spend some time with her three best friends, far away from her soul-crushing job. But athletic, energetic Pia has other plans.
Plans for an adrenaline-raising, breath-taking, white-water rafting trip in the Maine wilderness. Five thousand square miles of remote countryside. Just mountains, rivers and fresh air.
No phone coverage. No people.
I am absolutely thrilled to welcome you to my stop on Erica Ferencik’s The River at Night blog tour. When I was asked to join the blog tour for this book I just couldn’t say no. I’m a bit of a sucker for disaster/survival novels and although the plot of The River at Night involves a much smaller cast of characters and it’s really more of a thriller novel than anything else, I couldn’t help but be drawn to it for the same reason I love disaster novels. A group of normal everyday people suddenly, unexpectedly, being thrown (normally thanks to human error, science or Mother Nature) into the worst kind of situation and seeing if they survive. Nail biting stuff which is exactly what The River at Night proved to be!
Four friends who don’t see each other enough regularly meet up once a year and go on holiday/vacation together. The holiday tends to be chosen by Pia who is outdoorsy and adventurous. Unfortunately for the other three friends, they are neither outdoorsy nor adventurous! This year Pia has decided to go white water rafting. (I should say at this point that I am not outdoorsy or adventurous but I’ve always fancied having a go at white water rafting….until I read this book!) Win Allen and her three friends, Pia, Rachel and Sandra all head out to the Maine wilderness, their backpacks stuffed to the gills with new rafting equipment and chocolate. Each woman is very different to her friends. They all have different life experiences and are at different stages of their lives. But what they all need more than anything else is to spend some quality time together. The journey starts well as they meet their guide, Rory and he settles them in their base camp for the night. But before long hostility spikes the air and tempers begin to fray. Pitted against the Maine rapids, Mother Nature and maybe even each other…will they survive their holiday of a lifetime?
What I absolutely loved about this book is that underneath the action and the adventure, what you actually have is a beautifully written character study of four strong, independent woman and their straining friendship. The arguments and the tension of so many years come crashing back from the past, old grudges and past upsets are reignited in the worst possible scenario and we get to see who these characters really are. I loved that the strong, at times, became weak and the weak became strong. Out of the four female characters Win Allen won my heart through and through. I saw myself in her more than the others (with maybe a little bit of Sandra in there too). I found it harder to warm to Rachel and Pia but they are the stronger, more assertive and forthright women of the group.
The plot moved at a steady yet intriguing pace. I didn’t find this book to be a ‘thrill a minute’ read so if you’re looking for something that will keep your heart pounding and put you on the edge of your seat, you may want to look elsewhere. I found myself happily settling into a steady rhythm when bam, something unexpected happened. Ferencik shows a real skill at lulling you into a false sense of security and then shocking you right back out again. I enjoyed the author’s intricately descriptive style when narrating the Maine wilderness and the angry, boiling rapids. But at times, I wanted a little less scene setting and a little more of the fascinating characters and their dialogue. Saying that, it didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the book.
Would I recommend this book? I would, particularly if you like your reads with well written, detailed characters. It has exciting moments but the story is more about the four friends and their ability to cope in this unusual situation putting their friendship to the ultimate test. There are creepy parts and there is a small amount of animal slaughter which I know many people find hard to stomach, even when fictionalised. Compelling, heartfelt writing and I can’t wait to read more from Erica Ferencik.
Four out of five stars.
I chose to read and review an ARC of The River at Night. Many thanks to Joe Thomas at Bloomsbury Raven for providing me with a copy. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.
The River at Night by Erica Ferencik was published in the UK by Bloomsbury Raven on 12th January 2017 and is available in hardback, eBook and audio formats (with the paperback being released later this year) | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Goodreads |
Erica Ferencik is a graduate of the MFA program in Creative Writing at Boston University. Her work has appeared in Salon and The Boston Globe, as well as on National Public Radio.