Title: The River at Night
Author: Erica Ferencik
Published: January 3rd 2017
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc
Genres: Fiction, Crime, Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
A high stakes drama set against the harsh beauty of the Maine wilderness, charting the journey of four friends as they fight to survive the aftermath of a white water rafting accident, The River at Night is a nonstop and unforgettable thriller by a stunning new voice in fiction.
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, visceral prose, and pacing as ruthless as the river itself, The River at Night is a dark exploration of creatures—both friend and foe—that you won’t soon forget.
Dangerous, unpredictable, beautiful, yet murky, are the waters that four women pushing forty take on during an annual vacation, trialling white-water rafting for the first time. This holiday forms the crux of the storyline of Erica Ferencik’s novel, The River at Night.
Pia Zanderlee is the leader of a quartet of lifelong friends, who every year commit to a vacation together. It is Pia’s turn to choose the vacation and the thriller seeker in her cannot help but be drawn to the adventure of a white-water rafting holiday, in the depths of Maine. It is hard to convince her friends, ER nurse Rachel, mum Sandra and graphic designer Wini, to join her on this less relaxing style of vacation. However, peer pressure ensues and the women find themselves bound for Maine. Accompanying them on the trip is a young college student hired by Pia, Rory Ekhart, their guide for the duration. After a hairy introduction to the local vicinity, the women camp down, ready for the first day of rafting. Pia soon hooks up with Rory, earning her the ire of the other women. This is short lived, as their first venture into the rapids quickly turns into a disaster and a fight for survival. Injured, without a raft and lacking basic supplies, the group treks deep into the unknown bowels of the forest, hoping to find help. Salvation arrives, but in the unlikeliest of forms and a new threat emerges. The foursome must gather all courage and resilience they have, in order to survive this dangerous encounter in the wilderness of Maine.
It was a refreshing experience to be given an opportunity to read The River at Night by Erica Ferencik. I have read very little in the way of wilderness adventure style novels, so I approached this novel with zeal. The overall experience of reading The River at Night, allowed me to feel like I was an extra friend or bystander in the thrilling events that occur in the novel. I was also able to relate somewhat to this novel, having embarked on a spot of white water rafting before. My experience was nowhere near as harrowing as the events in the novel, but I can see how it is easy to fall prey to mother nature and the elements. I can also appreciate how fast things can go from bad to worse in the isolated wilderness when an accident occurs, leaving you bereft of supplies and means to escape.
The earlier parts of The River at Night, are devoted to setting the scene and for the development of each main character. Each of the four base characters are introduced by Ferencik and their backgrounds explored. Pia and Wini (the narrator) come across as the clearest character wise, while Rachel and Sandra seem to float in the background. The guide Rory, is given very good character treatment by Ferencik. Other characters who come into the novel in the latter parts are well drawn, serving an important part in the events that unfold. What I drew from this novel was as much as it was an adventure novel, it was a novel about testing the strength of the human spirit, in a time of extreme danger.
With plenty of unexpected twists, an intriguing storyline that even plays out like a horror movie in parts, combines to ensure those who embark on reading this novel are in for a white knuckled ride. I liked The River at Night, a lot.
*I wish to thank Bookstr/Bloomsbury Publishing Plc for providing me with a copy of this book for review purposes.