Tuesday, September 26, 2017
The River at Night by Erica Ferencik
I had a little trouble getting into The River at Night, partly because I had just finished three utterly brilliant books in a row (this was back at the end of July) and partly because the beginning is a bit slow. A suspense about 4 women who get together yearly for a getaway, the book begins with a concept that's a little hard to buy into. Pia wants to go somewhere remote and challenging - a "get back to nature" type of trip - and she's chosen whitewater rafting in Maine. Rather than finding a place that's safe with trained tour guides, she's found a 20-year-old who has mapped out a remote section of river in Maine that he'll guide them down after a night of camping in the wilderness. Win (short for Winifred) narrates the trip.
There's some painfully overdone foreshadowing via Win's fears, at the beginning. But, once the women arrive at the river and begin their journey, the pace of the story picks up. Rory, their guide, seems competent enough. There was just never a point at which I was able to say to myself, "Yeah, sure, I believe 4 women would be willing to go to this remote area with a single guide and no knowledge of their own." It just didn't make sense to me. Why not go somewhere safer? I've been whitewater rafting. You can choose a trip every bit as challenging as what Pia chose (a weekend trip) but without the added danger of going somewhere so ridiculously remote without any kind of emergency plan. It's almost like you can sense the author plotting, "Where can I send my characters to make sure they're in the worst possible situation?" Setting up the plot in this way ensured that the characters in the book fall into the "too stupid to live" category.
Recommended but not a favorite - The author did a great job of changing the scenery, keeping the geography fairly fresh as the group traveled downriver; her descriptions of the river were beautiful. And, once things started to go horribly wrong and the storyline in The River at Night went a little big Deliverance, I considered the challenge the women faced unexpected and therefore interesting. I give the author credit for uniqueness of the specific dangers she created and the fact that I did find the story suspenseful, if a bit predictable. But, the overall result was average to a bit above average. Points off for overdone foreshadowing and a story that never fully allows one to suspend disbelief.
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