The Hunger

"Deeply disturbing, hard to put down" - Stephen King

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Pub Date 05 Apr 2018 | Archive Date 26 Apr 2018

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Description

"Deeply, deeply distrubing and hard to put down. Not recommeded reading after dark." STEPHEN KING

What began as a brave and bold adventure has become a nightmare.

The searing heat of the desert gives way to biting winds as they get closer to the mountains. The snows freeze the cattle where they stand.

The spectre of starvation looms and the children have begun to disappear.

Rumours are whispered, fingers pointed and accusation made as the surivors turn against each other.

And winter is closing in . . .

"Deeply, deeply distrubing and hard to put down. Not recommeded reading after dark." STEPHEN KING

What began as a brave and bold adventure has become a nightmare.

The searing heat of the desert gives...


Advance Praise

'Like The Revenant but with an insistent supernatural whisper. The setting and the story are utterly chilling. And the telling of it is so well done.' - SARAH PINBOROUGH, No.1 bestselling author of Behind Her Eyes

'Uneasy, nauseous, slow-burning tale that marries historical fiction with a hint of the supernatural. Loved it!' - JOANNE HARRIS, author of Chocolat and Different Class




'Like The Revenant but with an insistent supernatural whisper. The setting and the story are utterly chilling. And the telling of it is so well done.' - SARAH PINBOROUGH, No.1 bestselling author...


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ISBN 9780593078327
PRICE £14.99 (GBP)

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Featured Reviews

If you’re a fan of historical fiction, with a vague touch of the supernatural then Alma Katsu’s “The Hunger” may well be the book for you. I thoroughly enjoyed it and although it’s a novel which may not be peddled as ‘horror’ it has got more than enough to keep fans of the genre entertained, especially in its second half. Based on a true story, the disappearance of a large wagon train heading west towards California in the mid-1840s, Alma Katsu has made a superb job of recreating the hard and dangerous life of the wagon train, with the vague suspicion of something nasty tracking the ninety or so travellers, including many children, wives and old folks never far away. Many were desperate men, heading west with a lack of provisions, ill-prepared and hoping to survive the perilous 2000 odd mile journey to enjoy what later became known as the ‘American Dream’. It’s hard to know what to compare this superb beast of a novel to, however, if Dan Simmons decided to tackle the American frontier period he may well come up with something like “The Hunger” and that’s high praise indeed. The novel is full of colourful period detail, exquisitely researched, and although it moves along at a slow pace it is never dull and I read it very quickly. However, if you do prefer a slash, bang, wallop kind of horror then this is probably not the book for you. It inhabits the literary end of the genre and is a fine example of how to build tension, slow dread and fear as the travellers are picked off one by one after a young boy is disappears early in their journey, his eaten corpse found strangely ahead of the wagon train a few days later. Indians are suspected, but soon the fear spreads. According to the informative author end-notes the true events of the disappearance of the ‘Donner’ party, or at least the facts that do exist, were common knowledge until the last couple of generations and have since disappeared from common American historical knowledge. As George Donner had the most wagons and cash he declares himself leader, but with winter fast approaching the wagon train falls behind schedule and they are left with a critical choice to make. Either go the familiar safer wagon route, or follow a supposed short-cut which is unexplored properly but rumoured to shave 300 miles from the journey. They foolishly take the short cut. Although the whole book is a journey, with something nasty lurking in the background, the book is as much about the people as anything else. It is easy to argue the plot would have been strong enough without any supernatural elements at all. Seen from multiple points of view there are some wonderfully drawn characters and the novel uses both flashbacks and letters to explore many key back stories. For many of them, risking a 2000-mile journey, means they are running away from something. Amongst these good Christian men and women, we have every kind of secret from infidelity, homosexual lust, murder, to incest, all of which slowly unravel as the wagon train begins to flounder. Laced into the plot are many clever cultural observations from the period, for example, why were unmarried men treated with suspicion? As one of the leading characters Stanton finds out. “The Hunger” was a superbly thoughtful novel, which ultimately stretched the limits of human endurance, as there is more than one kind of ‘hunger’. Its strength lies in the pioneer spirit of the brave ninety souls searching for a dream, not knowing a nightmare was waiting. Turning a factual event into a very readable novel is tricky, adding a convincing supernatural angle is even more difficult, but the author pulls it off admirably. It’s possible readers of ‘straight’ historical fiction may not like the direction the novel heads in the final 20% of its gruelling 400 pages. But, hey, that’s their loss.

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As a UK reader I had no idea of the historical story that this book was based on. I didn't find it particularly horrific and it wasn't the kind of book that I was rushing to pick up. I did however find it to be well written.

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