THE RIVER AT NIGHT
by Erica Ferencik
I wish I’d written this ...
... because the characters are really convincing!
Above all, this is a character study, and a good one. It builds slowly, eases you into the minds and hearts of the four women who set off on a white water rafting adventure, and then spills you (and them) into the rapids and leaves you (and them) struggling for breath. Without giving too much away, I didn't find all four of the protagonists likeable but was very appreciative of the fact that the ones I didn't much care for got into some serious self-evaluation by the end of the story. And seriously, who wouldn't after enduring what these women go through? Yes, there have been comparisons to DELIVERANCE and they're justified but this novel gives it a female twist that works just fine and, I have to say, the descriptions of the environment are absolutely superb. There's a really strong sense of place that puts you, the reader, in the midst of it in a way a movie just cannot achieve. If I have one criticism, it's that the female villain's dialogue is too sophisticated, it doesn't match her background and circumstances. That aside, this is great.
The first page
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 gal-pal vacation goes over the falls and into hell. You won’t put it down.”
“If it were a movie (which it's likely to be), Ferencik's nail-biting tale—about a rafting trip gone wrong—would be "The Descent" meets "The River Wild." But for now, her literary thrill ride is shooting off the page ... Harrowing ... a visceral, white knuckle rush.”
“A heart-pounding debut novel ... a ripsnorting survival tale bolstered by Ferencik's writing, which captures both the beauty and danger of the wild.”
—#1 PICK, OPRAH.COM