Paver has done it again. I couldn’t resist it. Shortly after finishing Dark Matter (see below article), I went straight to Waterstones and got a copy of Michelle Paver’s other ghost tale – Thin Air. In terms of prose and style, this story could be described as Dark Matter‘s twin. Profound, engaging and intriguing, Thin Air’s (ominous) themes begin even on the first page, where Himalayan challenge is greeted by the seemingly polite yet subtly rude soiree politics in colonial-era Darjeeling.
A broken family, forsaken romance and a motley mountaineering crew primed for an insurmountable challenge form the bedrock for this compelling adventure as they embark upon the terrific Kangchenjunga. Before even reaching base camp, our main character and his team seem incongruent and splintered by the most basic disagreements – which route to approach the mountain, who is in charge, who will get to climb the summit. Their first steps in their odyssey thus appear star-crossed.
But the book is also rich in both real and (seemingly) imagined challenges. The Sherpas employed by the team, also fluent in mountaineering and native to the Himalayas, contribute to this tale’s growing menace through their ominous soundings and prayers. As the team begin to scale Kangchenjunga’s mighty peak, their petty differences fade while a new-found discord invades their nerve. With each climbing step and stiffer breath, it seems they are approaching not the pinnacle of an unconquered peak but an epiphany of something more far more stunning and far more dangerous.
I have probably already given away far too many spoilers but suffice to say that Thin Air is an essential read for any purveyor of the horror (… or mountaineering) genre. Also awaited with eager anticipation is Wakenhyrst – Paver’s next haunting thriller steeped in gothic horror (due April 2019). In the meantime, I have posted some other suspenseful reads under “Recommended Books” for anyone in need of a solid read.