Format: ARC, 384 pages
Release Date: March 6, 2018
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Genre: Thrillers / Psychological
A tense and gripping reimagining of one of America’s most fascinating historical moments: the Donner Party with a supernatural twist.
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.
Effortlessly combining the supernatural and the historical, The Hunger is an eerie, thrilling look at the volatility of human nature, pushed to its breaking point.
The Hunger explores an event that has fascinated Americans for centuries. The Donner Party which was led by George Donner and James Reed. There have been a variety of books on this subject, including The Indifferent Stars Above and Snow Mountain Passage). Each book has been supported by intense research, & historical authenticity shines in this novel—the cast of characters and the brutal surroundings transport readers to the Wild West. If you haven't already read about the Donner Party, please do so.
The story takes place between May 1846 and March 1847. The author twists her story through a variety of characters like Tamsin Donner, Mary Graves, Charles Stanton, Edwin Bryant, and James Reed just to name a few of the important and actual historical characters who were part of the Donner/Reed wagon train to California. When you really look into the story itself, it is a sad one filled with one unexpected mishap after the other. From trusting someone, Langsford Hastings, who offered a quicker route that actually extended the trip, to the unexpected conditions that were worse than they expected, to the infighting, to the mysterious disappearance of children along the way.
The author actually uses a paranormal entity to tell her story, perhaps adding another layer of craziness and darkness in order to keep the reader's attention. History reveals that by the beginning of November 1846, the settlers had reached the Sierra Nevada where they became trapped by an early, heavy snowfall near Truckee (now Donner) Lake, high in the mountains. Their food supplies ran extremely low and, in mid-December, some of the group set out on foot to obtain help others resorted to more of a cannibalism lifestyle in order to survive.
Four parties of rescuers, including James Reed, arrived from California in an attempted to reach the settlers, but they didn't arrive until the middle of February 1847, almost four months after the wagon train had become trapped. Of the 87 members of the party, 45 survived to reach California, many of them having eaten the dead for survival. History shows that only the Reed and Breen families remained intact. The children of Jacob Donner, George Donner, and Franklin Graves were orphaned. The curious thing about the Donner/Reed wagon train, is that there was more children than adults. They were also the majority of those who survived as well.
One of the more twisted historical characters that appears in this book, is Lewis Keseberg. Keseberg is a man who is the very essence of what the author is trying to get through by naming the book The Hunger. Not going to go any further. Again, I encourage you to do your own research on the Donner Party and those who actually survived. Even though I am a Historical junkie, Katsu took a bunch of liberties to twist this tale, but really didn't get to the point where I was enthusiastic about the story in its entirely. I expected a whole lot more than what is in this book.
Alma Katsu is also the author of The Taker, The Reckoning,
and The Descent. 20th Century Fox has acquired The
Hunger, which will be produced by Ridley Scott’s company
Scott Free. It will be directed and scripted by Luke Scott,
Ridley Scott’s son, who has worked on films like
Prometheus, The Martian, and Alien: Covenant.