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.
The River at Night by Erica Ferencik
Publication Date: January 10, 2017 by Gallery/Scout Press
All I knew was that no one expected us home for five days, and no one I knew expected to hear from me at all.
I’ll start by saying this is an enjoyable, fast-paced book. The author wastes no time in diving right into the plot and at no time did I feel like I was waiting for things to become tense or frightening because she manages to create that tension right from the very beginning. She not only hints at what the reader obviously knows is not going to be a happy story, but she also does a great job of painting the picture of a violent, unforgiving environment.
We three sat in silence, bumping along so hard my teeth were chattering, feeling the main road recede as the forest came at us fast. Branches reached out and scraped across the windshield, snapping back behind us. The road decayed into two muddy grooves with grass down the middle, and the truck bounced so violently in deep ruts I thought the engine would fall out.
There were a few things that kept this book at a three stars for me rather than a higher rating. One is that there are aspects of the plot that are a bit too unbelievable for me and while I know they played into the storyline, I found it a bit baffling that we were expected to believe these details (I’m not going to go into detail to avoid spoilers).
The second is that this book constantly reminded of me of a mixture of Deliverance and the movie The Descent. The female characters were very much the same formula as the movie: Pia, the fearless leader who makes rash decisions her friends always seem to follow because of her sense of adventure (but is unreliable and sometimes just a jerk). Wini, the more hesitant, rational friend of the group who has been through some recent trauma and is looking to get away for a long weekend to try and get her mind off of everything (and somehow turns that around to be able to survive yet another harrowing experience in the book once things go terribly wrong). The other two friends stay a bit in the background, but are there to complete the female group of friends equation.
The River at Night is a fun, fast-paced book, but it just seems a bit too much like a shadow of a story I’ve heard before for me to have become fully absorbed in the book’s plot. This would be an enjoyable read for those who haven’t already read/seen Deliverance or The Descent as I feel that that was the one aspect I couldn’t get past, but wouldn’t be a deal breaker for those who haven’t been tainted by prior experiences!