I am going to insist again, this time for the last time because you must all be tired of hearing it, that I hate to be scared. Why I continuously pick up books that keep me up at night is a total mystery, but I do, so I am finished with this particular line of navel gazing and am going to embrace it. I love nothing more than reading books that unsettle me to the point where I can’t stop talking about them to other people with nominal interest in anything I am saying. Better? One thing I will never change my mind on is that I hate to camp. Actually let’s just call this deep-seated fear about… nature. I once made a decision not to date someone because he was a camper – which might sound unfair but I quickly internally extrapolated out ‘want to get a drink’ to spending the next forty years of my life in a tent for every vacation and politely told him that I have a boyfriend already. In Canada. I am super good at thinking on my feet.
The River At Night is a new novel from Erica Ferencik, which is being described by people who do not read enough as a little like Deliverance meets The River Wild. While that comparison is cheating in its simplicity, it is not entirely inaccurate.
A group of four women, friends for years, decide to take a vacation and this year they are going white water rafting in the remote woods of Maine. Okay. I have a group of friends that I travel with as well, but we go to places like Dublin and Key West. If any of my friends suggested the untouched backwater we would probably just point out how little wine could practically be carried out there and it would be a quick conversation. But these girls, led by the de facto group leader’s general forceful and unsettled air, decide to brave it, for some reason.
Our protagonist is Winifred Allen, a generally unhappy woman going through a divorce and the death of her beloved brother. Her three friends, including Pia the aforementioned hot mess, are all in varying shades of disarray. Almost immediately there is an accident, which leaves them without a guide and with no supplies. Then it gets really scary and we are dealing with animals and humans whose territory has been invaded, which can’t exactly end well.
For a novel with only four main characters, I should be able to remember all of their names. And I don’t. And I didn’t even go back and look for the sake of this review, so I’m telling you there is Winifred who is our girl, Pia who is a pain in the ass, one who is a nurse and one who left no impression on me at all. This book can’t decide if it’s a human drama about these four and their friendship or if it is about the external threats and the confirmation to my long held hypothesis that the outdoors is bullshit.
Which is not to say that I didn’t enjoy the book – I did. It was a pretty fun read and the pacing is relentless. What I know for sure is that I would be the first one dead in this situation, there is really no question about it. I will continue to pick vacation spots with culture to learn and room service to order, but I continue to be amazed people who want to spend theirs sweating and treating wounds and bug bites.
The River At Night – Grade B