Michelle Paver is one of my favourite authors and her book, Dark Matter is my favourite ghost story ever. I thought that Dark Matter was too good to be true and that Paver would never write another story like it but here it is! Thin Air is Paver’s second ghost story and it does not disappoint!
Like Dark Matter, Thin Air is advertised as a horror book. I feel as though this novel is more of a mystery/thriller/survival story than a horror as it does not have the same intensity nor the suspense that makes Dark Matter a terrifying and unforgettable ghost story. Despite the novel being placed in the wrong genre, it is still great and provides an interesting mystery that will keep you turning the pages.
Set in the 1930’s, Thin Air tells the story of a team of young men who travel to India to climb the third highest mountain in the world, Kangchenjunga; a mountain that nobody has ever conquered. Stephen Pearse and his brother, Kits, are fascinated by the British hero, Lyell who tried to scale the mountain before but failed, concluding with the death of five men yet only four were buried. The Pearse team literally follows in the footsteps of the 1907 Lyell Expedition but soon uncover the truth of the previous failure in those snowy conditions. Something moves on the mountain and it follows, seeking revenge.
One of the best things about this novel is the atmosphere and the way Paver describes the mountainous world. To the men on the mountain, the air is stifling and suffocating and as the travelers step closer to the summit, the reader feels the same suffocation and realises the danger these men are in. The utter isolation of the team makes one feel alone and tense. My shoulders were very sore after reading this novel as I had been so hunched up with the tension that the characters were feeling.
The characters are all interesting and have their own stories. Stephen, who writes diary entries of the trip, is the most fleshed out character as he is the one that first starts to experience the terror that follows them. His brother, Kits, is also fleshed out a lot as we see his interactions with Stephen more often than other characters. The others all are spoken of and are not just characters in passing, which is good as usually in horror books, there are always a few characters that are never discussed further than their name and relationship with the protagonist.
As I said previously, the book is more of a mystery than a horror. It will keep you reading as you will want to know the truth about the Lyell Expedition. Why doesn’t anybody talk about it? And why have the team been warned against stepping on the mountain? When you do learn the truth, the horror starts to amount to something as the ghosts start to appear. It really is a page turner.
I gave the book 5 stars as I really loved the tension of the book and the plot. It is not better than Dark Matter as a horror but I still enjoyed it just as much as a mystery.