Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Review: Thin Air by Michelle Paver

Thin Air follows the story of five mountain climbers going for the summit of Kangchenjunga, the third highest peak in the Himalayas and considered at the time, the biggest killer of them all. Told from the point of view of a young medic, the group plan to follow the route that ended in disaster in 1907. The book opens with the medic receiving a stark warning from the last surviving member of that expedition.

Set in 1935 with a style deliberately dated, Thin Air has a feel that might appeal to fans of H.P. Lovecraft - in fact, it's very reminiscent of At The Mountains of Madness, (written in 1931!) not only in the setting and atmosphere but in the gradual and cumulative climb towards increasing fear.

Attention to detail is a major part of the book, from equipment to diet to medical treatments. It helps pace the story and make it feel like a genuine memoir of a 1930's trek. The story itself is gradual in development and the initial moments of unease are just a little too subtle, but these moments increase and gather momentum as the main character becomes lost in his own fears and culminate in a few final scenes which really deliver.

Thin Air is a steadily paced, slow-burn ghost story. Atmospheric, well researched and has some great moments of isolation, confusion and madness.

Thin Air is due out October 6th 2016, published by Orion. 
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Colin Mulhern

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