The River at Night

(No Series)

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.

A group of close friends get together every year to go on new adventures. This time the four women get wrapped up in a daring river wilderness trip, which only one of them is looking forward to, but that all will go along with to escape the humdrum of normal life. Of course the trip turns into a nightmare mesh of wilderness meeting human depravity.

The River of Night involves four women but is told singularly through the main character, Winnie, a recently divorced and middle-age woman who has a loyal heart and semi-adventurous spirit. The book opens with her small dabs of humor and self-approach, setting a good lead for the story. I dug how the author mainly focused on the dynamics of the friends, including some of them feeling a little betrayed by the boy-crazy friend who puts them to the side for a guide. It added a realism to the story that I frankly see in my own circle of friends. Their bond is strong but not unrealistically clean and chic-lit style. It's sweet because it's awesome but it's not sweet because it's syrupy.

It takes awhile to get to the tension, and when it finally does the story calms down a bit. They have real dangers to face but the second half could have delivered a bit more in some areas. The river is formidable element of nature to contend with and we get our tragedy involving it, but the book could have held other dangers to spice up the story-line, especially involving animals or other elements of the setting. Instead it focuses on the dangers of those who may want to live alone for a reason, a story theme that's been told several times before, but there are differences here that work. Winnie's past history with a brother works into the present because of a unique element of the story-line.

While salvation is granted, there's a bittersweet line that the freedom removed from the the wilderness isn't always a perfect solution. It's good closure but it's not a neat closure, which fits to be realistic and not simply clean and unlike actual life.

A nice balance of pacing and characters for a thriller that - while not fully unique - delivers what it sets out to: a harrowing ride with tense adventure.

Received from netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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