Review: The River at Night by Erica Ferencik

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Overall Score: 9/10

Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Action

Series: No

Publisher: Gallery/ Scout Press

Release Date: January 10, 2017

Source: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Book Summary (From GoodReads)

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.

Review

4.5/5 stars for this engrossing and utterly captivating thriller. I was a little nervous going in because it is a survival thriller but I was absolutely blown away by how the author combined adventure, thriller, and drama to keep me hooked the entire time I was reading.

A River at Night begins with Winifred, the main character, planning a white water river rafting trip with her three friends. If that doesn’t quite like your cup of tea, it isn’t Wini’s either. Pia, the adventurous one, persuaded her friends to go along with her crazy idea. The beginning of the book focused on allowing the reader to get to know the characters and their history with each other. The adventure through the Maine wilderness quickly morph into a wild, crazy ride that totally sucked me in.

The writing itself is beautiful and the pacing mirrors the rafting journey. There would be moments of calm and peace followed by an intensely emotional, fast-paced scene. What surprised me the most about this book is how character-driven it was. Watching how the situations affected the relationships between Wini and her friends was just as interesting as their attempts to stay alive in the woods.

I was continually surprised by the situations the women found themselves in and how they dealt with them. The earlier focus on character development allowed the characters to be relatable and made me truly care about what happened to them. Additionally, the author does a wonderful job exploring both the physical and psychological toll of their journey. I was thinking about this book and the characters long after I turned the last page.

While there are some negatives (there are some coincidences and events that seem a little unlikely), they didn’t really detract from my enjoyment of the book. If you decide to read this one, just hang on tight and enjoy the ride.

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