The Hunger
Evil is invisible, and it is everywhere. Tamsen Donner must be a witch. That is the only way to explain the series of misfortunes that have plagued the wagon train known as the Donner Party. Depleted rations, bitter quarrels, and the mysterious death of a little boy have driven the pioneers to the brink of madness. They cannot escape the feeling that someone--or something--is stalking them. Whether it was a curse from the beautiful Tamsen, the choice to follow a disastrous experimental route West, or just plain bad luck--the 90 men, women, and children of the Donner Party are at the brink of one of the deadliest and most disastrous western adventures in American history. While the ill-fated group struggles to survive in the treacherous mountain conditions--searing heat that turns the sand into bubbling stew; snows that freeze the oxen where they stand--evil begins to grow around them, and within them. As members of the party begin to disappear, they must ask themselves "What if there is something waiting in the mountains? Something disturbing and diseased...and very hungry?"

The Hunger Details

TitleThe Hunger
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMar 6th, 2018
PublisherG.P. Putnam’s Sons
ISBN-139780735212510
Rating
GenreHorror, Historical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Mystery, Adult

The Hunger Review

  • Debra
    January 1, 1970
    "Maybe it takes one demon to keep the others away." He paused. His eyes glistened with tears now. "Lucifer had been an angel first. I always remember that."Is it okay to say that I devoured this book?Seriously, I picked this book up after I had read "The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing saga of the Donner party" (It's wonderful and I highly recommend it.) I was worried that I would not like this book as much. I had read some positive reviews of this book and even Stephen King endorsed it, "Maybe it takes one demon to keep the others away." He paused. His eyes glistened with tears now. "Lucifer had been an angel first. I always remember that."Is it okay to say that I devoured this book?Seriously, I picked this book up after I had read "The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing saga of the Donner party" (It's wonderful and I highly recommend it.) I was worried that I would not like this book as much. I had read some positive reviews of this book and even Stephen King endorsed it, so I was very excited to start it. But I was also apprehensive as I often find I am not on the bandwagon with hyped books. Plus, would I hold it up to the high standard of "The Indifferent Stars Above"?The first chapter I was worried. It started a little slow for me. But I kept reading and let me tell you this book has some teeth. Okay bad pun. This book drew me in and showed it has legs and can stand on its own merit. This is a re-telling of the Donner party with a supernatural element involved. The Author mixed history with fiction effortlessly. She gave personalities and back stories to the characters and often I wondered about the survivor’s family members would approve. If this book starts slowly for you – keep with it. It sucks you in and there is not going back!We all know about the wagon train knows as the Donner party and how they faced tragedy when faced with horrific snow, hunger/starvation, failing mental and physical health. The Author uses some supernatural elements to bring on the creep and bring a little horror to the story. Are they being followed? Is something sinister out there in the dark? Could animals be stalking them? What dangers lies in the dark? What danger lies in the heart of men.Making the book even more suspenseful is the belief that one among them is a witch, there are secret relationships, deaths and of course, the hardships of the trail itself. There are a lot of characters in this book, but I had no issues keeping track of them. I also liked that the trail and the landscape itself felt like characters. This book was atmospheric and creepy. There is a feeling of dread throughout this book. Life was hard back then. The trail was hard. Trying to survive on a day to day basis is hard and it makes people hard as well. As the group begins to dwindle in number they begin to wonder, what evil lies in wait for them - is it out there or has it been with them the entire time?Hitch up your wagons and load your supplies because you are in for a journey along the eerie and riveting pages of this book!See more of my reviews at www.openbookpost.com
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  • Jilly
    January 1, 1970
    I need therapy after this book.Holy crap! Someone show me a puppy video, STAT! I may have nightmares tonight.Okay, so the biggest thing that will fuck you up is that you know this book is based upon a true story. Yes, it gets strange and has a paranormal thing that comes in, but you also know that these are real people who ended up eating each other in real life. So, you know how absolutely fucked they were to get to that point. They had been traveling together for months. How desperate were the I need therapy after this book.Holy crap! Someone show me a puppy video, STAT! I may have nightmares tonight.Okay, so the biggest thing that will fuck you up is that you know this book is based upon a true story. Yes, it gets strange and has a paranormal thing that comes in, but you also know that these are real people who ended up eating each other in real life. So, you know how absolutely fucked they were to get to that point. They had been traveling together for months. How desperate were they that cannibalism came into play? How do they look at another human being, whom they knew well, and see meat?So, going in, you know this story is going to be disturbing, even if it kept strictly to the facts that we know from history. But, nooooooo, that wasn't disturbing enough. Our beloved author took that fucked-up story from history and just went to town on making it so much darker that you will feel your heart blackening as you go. I seriously need to ride a unicorn or eat a rainbow to recover from this shit.Fucking cats. I really needed that shit.We follow the Donner Party on their journey and get to know several of the characters up close and personal. Most of them are heading west to run away from their problems. Which I wholly approve of. It's really the only way I will do any running. Running from my problems is my cardio (hey, don't knock it til you've tried it. Yeah, Denial!). The thing to remind yourself is that the Donner Party story doesn't end on a happy note. I mean, how do we even know about these people? When you think "Donner Party", you aren't thinking about a fabulous vacation with food and love stories all around. So..... you know it's gonna suck.The story is so well-written that you can feel the desperation and isolation that builds as the story goes on. You feel like you are on this giant death-march but you are the only one who knows the outcome. You want to smack them when they make stupid decisions that you know what they will lead to. It's frustrating, depressing, and horrifying.But, just a bunch of people who ended up eating each other wasn't enough. No. There are monsters out there. And, the secrets that I mentioned that many of them were running from? There are monsters in their party. Plus, the suffering, desperation, and isolation? There are monsters being created on the road. All together, a hell of a lot of monsters. There are tons of triggers in this story, so only read it if you want to be mind-fucked. I am literally nauseous right now as I smell my husband cooking. So, that's the cannibalism. There is also lots of death, obviously, and the sexual abuse of children. Incest and spousal abuse are indicated too. Still, if you can stomach it, you will love/hate this book.
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  • Carrie
    January 1, 1970
    The Hunger by Alma Katsu is a fictional novel that is centered around one of histories most famous events when it came to settling the western U.S. This story gives a new imaginative supernatural twist to just what may have happened to the Donner party on their trek across the country.The book uses the real characters and events from that time to give the story that realistic feel while also adding in it’s own elements to make a whole new version of events. The story starts off letting readers g The Hunger by Alma Katsu is a fictional novel that is centered around one of histories most famous events when it came to settling the western U.S. This story gives a new imaginative supernatural twist to just what may have happened to the Donner party on their trek across the country.The book uses the real characters and events from that time to give the story that realistic feel while also adding in it’s own elements to make a whole new version of events. The story starts off letting readers get to know the situation and characters just as they may have been back during their trek to the west.The point of view will switch between those in the group introducing multiple key characters in the story. There are also several scenarios given as to why such a large group may have been slowed down which was ultimately the downfall of the Donner party when they became trapped by the snowfall.I found the beginning of the book very engaging as the author fleshed out the characters and story and could really picture the wagons heading out along their journey. I will admit though it did have it’s slower moments before the supernatural twist really ramped up towards the end though making it drag here and there for me. In the end though I found the book to a nice balance of reality with the fictional twist that made for fascinating reading.I received an advance copy from the publisher via Edelweiss.For more reviews please visit https://carriesbookreviews.com/
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  • Tammy
    January 1, 1970
    This is a re-imagining of the tragedy of the Donner Party. There is terror and horror contained within these pages. The characters both real and fictious are fully developed with backstories that enhance the tale. You will want to keep the lights bright when reading this one.
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  • Scarlett Readz and Runz....Through Novel Time & Distance
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 Hungy, hungy starsThe Pioneer wagon train that was DOOMED….and a HUNGER that was lurking within!“Evil was invisible, and it was everywhere.” ― Alma KatsuAlma Katsu did an amazing job when combining actual history and blending in fictional elements intrinsically. Researching The Donner/Reed parties that attempted the migration west through uncharted regions of the Sierra Mountains with little choice for survival is a brilliant setting for a fictional novel, and Katsu explored and executed thi 4.5 Hungy, hungy starsThe Pioneer wagon train that was DOOMED….and a HUNGER that was lurking within!“Evil was invisible, and it was everywhere.” ― Alma KatsuAlma Katsu did an amazing job when combining actual history and blending in fictional elements intrinsically. Researching The Donner/Reed parties that attempted the migration west through uncharted regions of the Sierra Mountains with little choice for survival is a brilliant setting for a fictional novel, and Katsu explored and executed this with perfection.The Donner/Reed party, friends, family (including almost half of them children under the age of 18), employees, drivers, cattle, provisions and so forth, left for their journey to California later in the year then other Pioneer wagon trails have. Instead of leaving for their trip in mid-April, they actually did not leave until May 12, 1846. Many of the actual persons of the party appear in Katsu’s novel mostly true to what we know about them. George Donner, age 60 at the time, and his wife Tamsen with their children and those from his previous marriage, his younger brother Jacob Donner, age 56, and his family came along. James F. Reed, Irish immigrant, age 45 with his wife Margret, mother and children, made up the other large group traveling. Other families, widows, men and woman joined the party along the way such as Levinah Murphy and her children, the Breen family, Patrick Dolan, Lewis Keseberg and family, the Wolfingers, the Graves family….just to name a few. Under great conditions, traveling at 15 miles a day, their journey should have taken them 4-6 months. This is in consideration of rough terrain and inclement weather if they stayed on the Northwestern Route. Once through the mountain pass in Wyoming, by Fort Bridger, the party has the choice now to take a shortcut, the Hastings Cutoff through the Wasatch Mountains in UT and past the southern part of the Great Salt Lake to make it into Nevada. However, provisions are starting to run low and the weather has untimely changed cold early in the season. With a late start to begin with, this is not a great combination. Staying very much true to these facts, Katsu starts to develop her characters multi-dimensional along the way. Socio-economic statuses, backgrounds and relationships are explored. Comradery, friendships and foes are established. She sets the mood/tone, when mysterious things start to happen around camp and along the way. Katsu’s novel reminds me of The Terror by Dan Simmons. The unsettling creepiness that ensues from within is unseen, creating demons and monsters lurking all around. Katsu’s craft to create both scenes that describe landscapes most beautifully and intricate, but also evoke a chilling fear and tension of the unseen and unheard is exquisite. Slowly the nights are turning scary, the cold is becoming bitter and among the pioneers or perhaps surrounded by, is a Hunger that does not stop…..It kills and spreads, tormenting them all. And still the voices crowded her head, whispering terrible things and leaving a deep tunnel of loneliness, as if their words were sharp and physical things hollowing out her center. She was desperate for quiet, for peace, for silence.” ― Alma KatsuAs the pioneers start to split in search of better travel routes, the ominous dark that surrounds them continues. Some that venture away from camp don’t return. Some of the families loose loved ones, due to consumption, disease or…..MURDER. A widespread panic is difficult to contain accompanied by the diminished rations and the cold. “The aloneness ate a hole through him. Sometimes he worried that the loneliness had taken everything, that there was nothing left of him at all on the inside.” ― Alma Katsu“Elitha couldn’t pretend. She burned with shame. And still the voices crowded her head, whispering terrible things and leaving a deep tunnel of loneliness, as if their words were sharp and physical things hollowing out her center. She was desperate for quiet, for peace, for silence.” ― Alma Katsu“Then the Lord must be mightily displeased with you, because he has led you into the valley of death. Make peace with your Lord before it is too late, because the hungry ones are coming for you.” ― Alma KatsuThe book commences with most of the pioneers starved or perished, almost like the actual Donner Party. However, no rescue parties are coming for the poor lost souls from The Hunger. The ending is eluding to a most suspicious monster within that strikes and spreads. The reader is given clues in dialogue to interpret The End. Relief efforts for the actual survivors of the Donner/Reed party that made it to Truckee Lake were made in three parts with several weeks in between. The treacherous terrain and billowing cold made it an ordeal for any rescue effort. Out of the 80-some people that started the journey, only half survived. The whole point of going west was part of the Manifest Destiny. The wish to establish and prosper in California was a dream that many followed. Out of the survivors, Reed was the only one that actually fared well in the California Gold Rush and became prosperous. The Donner children were orphaned. Widowed women remarried and Keseberg grew old and withdrawn. ***This novel certainly has peaked my interest for more. I was aware of the Donner party and vaguely remember reading about them in the past, but not in detail. Not only do I want to learn more now and get my hands on real sources, but I am also intrigued by Alma Katsu. I believe there have been other writings if not even movies made of this fateful venture, but I am at awe at Katsu’s skills. Her writing holds up with the best. I generally love historical fiction almost above all other genres. I read such great reviews about this book that despite my squeamishness towards horror I gave it a try. I honestly have to say, it was not as frightful as I anticipated. I was advised to leave the lights on to read, and to not to be alone etc. But it really wasn’t that bad. The scenes were there, but they weren’t horrific, more of a tension…a flutter in the chest. So, even if you are not a reader of the darker kind of fiction, give this a try. Katsu’s writing is a treat…and she can’t change the fact that cannibalism was involved during the actual journey. EnjoyAlso, thank you to Stephen for the last minute buddy read. I enjoyed your thoughts and our discussions on this novel :)More of my reviews here: https://scarlettreadzandrunz.com/
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  • Juli
    January 1, 1970
    In April 1846, 90 settlers left Springfield, Ill headed for California. The Donner Party was led by Jacob and George Donner. At first they followed the established route -- The California Trail -- reaching Wyoming without incident. It was at that point that they took the advice of a trail guide, Langsford Hastings, who offered a quicker route. This route proved to be dangerous and nearly impossible to navigate. The Donner Party wasted precious time trying to get through, and arrived at the Sierr In April 1846, 90 settlers left Springfield, Ill headed for California. The Donner Party was led by Jacob and George Donner. At first they followed the established route -- The California Trail -- reaching Wyoming without incident. It was at that point that they took the advice of a trail guide, Langsford Hastings, who offered a quicker route. This route proved to be dangerous and nearly impossible to navigate. The Donner Party wasted precious time trying to get through, and arrived at the Sierra Nevada mountains late in the season. While attempting to pass through the mountains, the group was snowed in, running out of food and supplies. Survivors ate the bodies of those who died in order to survive. Only about half of the doomed group lived through winter and arrived in California. This is what history tells us happened to the Donner Party. Alma Katsu paints a much more horrific, terrifying picture of that fated trip. What's worse than cannibalizing dead bodies? The thing that the Indians call Na'it. The Hunger. OMG! I loved this book! I am always in favor of creepy horror stories, but when it's a re-telling of a famous (and already creepy in itself) historical event I am even more on board for a good scare. This tale delivered creepiness, outright horror and suspense! As the story unfolds, the horror of the group's situation builds.....not only are they running out of supplies but they are being stalked. Animals disappear. People disappear. Then there's the whispers from the woods at night.....and the strange crazed men that appear, ranting about being hungry. So hungry. Awesome storytelling! A nice mix of history with fictional horror. It definitely kept my attention from beginning to end. This is the first book by Alma Katsu that I have read. She also wrote The Taker series. I'm going to read that series because I enjoyed this book so much. **I voluntarily read an advanced readers copy of this book from Putnam via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**
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  • Sadie Hartmann Mother Horror
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to Glasstown Ent. for giving the Night Worms a copy of this book to all seven of us for an honest review.I'm a native of Northern California. I grew up in a historical mining town. For history lessons in primary school, we read books like, Patty Reed's Doll and played a computer game called Oregon Trail where you and your family had to make your way to California in a covered wagon. I often died before reaching the elusive Sutter's Fort. I had too many supplies in the wagon and my oxen Thank you to Glasstown Ent. for giving the Night Worms a copy of this book to all seven of us for an honest review.I'm a native of Northern California. I grew up in a historical mining town. For history lessons in primary school, we read books like, Patty Reed's Doll and played a computer game called Oregon Trail where you and your family had to make your way to California in a covered wagon. I often died before reaching the elusive Sutter's Fort. I had too many supplies in the wagon and my oxen would drown while trying to cross the river OR I got dysentery. I typed the message "Pooped to Death" on my gravestone. GAME OVER.The Hunger by Alma Katsu is a historical fiction novel based on real events that were *already* horrific in my mind--the stuff the Donner Party endured on their trek through the Sierra Nevada mountains was brutal and tragic, Alma Katsu just turned it up a notch.*NO SPOILERS*I'm not going to tell you the threat Alma added to the Donner Party events but I'll tell you that I enjoyed it!My only complaint would be that Alma never quite went there. I wanted the suspense and tension that she expertly built to ultimately deliver that payload. Don't get me wrong, there is a climax and there are some creepy, gross, scary moments but I could have done with a little more teeth. I wanted some shock value. (maybe because I've read nothing but horror since September?) I do know that I will be reading more from this author. She knows how to spin a good web, I remember telling a friend that this was like a horror soap opera--juicy gossip, tawdry romance, back-biting and scandal all with a backdrop of survival and terror. Lots of good fun! You need it in your horror collection!!
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  • Jack +Books & Bourbon+
    January 1, 1970
    It’s books like these that make me mad, mad, mad. Not mad because the book was bad or poorly written (it wasn’t), not mad because of the liberties taken by the author (they enhance the story, and are therefore acceptable), and not mad because a favorite character died (this is about the Donner party, people die). No, I’m mad because I didn’t think of this concept first. I mean, come on, a group of settlers/pioneers who get trapped in the mountains and resort to cannibalism? That’s the perfect zo It’s books like these that make me mad, mad, mad. Not mad because the book was bad or poorly written (it wasn’t), not mad because of the liberties taken by the author (they enhance the story, and are therefore acceptable), and not mad because a favorite character died (this is about the Donner party, people die). No, I’m mad because I didn’t think of this concept first. I mean, come on, a group of settlers/pioneers who get trapped in the mountains and resort to cannibalism? That’s the perfect zombie setup if I’ve ever heard one.I’m trying to put more horror in my book diet, and while there are plenty of choices out there, I’m finding myself more and more drawn to titles that aren't quite mainstream, or with unique concepts. Sure, I like a haunted house story as much as the next guy, but after a while you need something different to cleanse the palate. And The Hunger by Alma Katsu is the perfect palate cleanser. It takes the “historical fiction” concepts of authors like Nathaniel Philbrick, Dan Simmons & Erik Larson, and adds a nice supernatural spin that makes an already tragic story that much more ominous. But let it be known that this is not a fast-paced monster book where there are surprises and cliffhangers around every corner. The Hunger is a more methodical thriller, more patient in its approach, and doesn't just hand the reader everything on a silver platter.The world was fragile. One day, growth; the next day, kindling.As a child growing up in California, I was actually already pretty familiar with the history of the Donner-Reed party. I’ve driven up to the very locations where the crossing was most severe in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, I’ve been camping in Truckee and seen Donner Lake, and have hiked some of the wilderness where the last part of this story takes place. I am also living in Utah at present, so I know very well the Wasatch mountain range and the salt flats. It’s ironic, as it seems like it takes forever to drive through these locations (generally many hours), and yet that’s in a vehicle travelling at 70 mph on paved roads. I can only imagine how difficult of a crossing it must have been with wagons (dubbed prairie schooners by how the canvas tops resembled the sails of a ship) and packhorses, travelling at maybe 2 miles per hour, having to hope for good grazing areas and being ever conscious of water and food stores. The pioneers of old were far braver and endured more hardships than we as a comfortable society will ever know. Hell, we even have a restaurant here in Ogden called The Prairie Schooner where you sit in small simulated wagons and eat hearty meals while surrounded by mockups of high desert flora & fauna. It’s weird how things have changed for us as a people and a society.Like with all my reviews, I will attempt to avoid spoilers whenever possible. To be honest, anyone even remotely familiar with the history of the Donner and Reed families and they tragic trek west will know that most folks didn’t make it, so spoilers here would be kinda non-existent. Regardless, I will do my best to avoid giving away any significant plot points.Told partly in third person, and partly in epistolary format, The Hunger truly is a unique book. And while some people may not like the epistolary format, I find that in the context of historical fiction it works quite well. It helps give a book that old-timey feel, and is perfectly at home here. We also get a few flashbacks for some of the characters, which is good, as we generally don’t know much about them when we are first introduced to them. In fact, they’ll make some interesting choices or have strange reactions to a situation, and we only learn later on, through their flashback, why they reacted as they did.There was something dark about her soul, something remote and flickering, like a flame in wind…So while there were a few liberties taken and a few fictional characters added to round out the tale, the folks who populate The Hunger were by-and-large real people. And we get a pretty good selection of them as point of view characters. Charles Stanton, Edwin Bryant, James Reed, Tamsen Donner, Elitha Donner, Mary Graves, and a few others round out the POV roster. I hesitate to say that there’s any one “main” character, as there really isn’t. This trek was a multi-family affair, and the story being told here, fictionalized though it may be, belongs to everyone. So it works that no one person has the lion’s share of the tale. That said, the points of view that we do follow are nice and varied. Charles Stanton is a single man seeking to leave a troubled past behind. In a group mostly populated by families, large and multi-generational, a single man is a sort of oddity. But though Stanton might be a slight outcast, he is a capable man with a good head on his shoulders. ”I don’t believe in monsers,” Stanton said. “Only men who behave like them.”Edwin Bryant is more of a scholar than a frontiersman, and is also travelling alone. But while Stanton is a loner by nature, an outsider by his own design, Edwin Bryant is more accepted within the wagon train, especially due to his limited medical knowledge. Tamsen Donner is the much younger wife to George Donner, the “leader” of the pioneers heading west. Beautiful and aloof, many of the pioneers (especially the women) think she is some kind of witch, hoping to ensnare the attention and affection of their men. From a distance she seemed even more beautiful to him now, but also frightening, like a newly sharpened knife. But while Tamsen may appear to be one thing on the outside, she is quite a different person once the layers are peeled back. James Reed is a family man and one of the more sensible men within the group, but his timid nature means that nobody really listens to him. He has a past he is also running from, a secret that he has kept hidden from everyone, including his family. Elitha Donner is George’s daughter from his previous marriage, and is incredibly sensitive to potentially supernatural events that are transpiring in the book. She's a sweet girl with a caring nature, but everything happening around her is threatening to consume her sanity.And Mary Graves is somewhat of a tomboy and is rather outspoken, unafraid to speak her mind and question the decisions of her elders. I always wanted more of her chapters, as she was refreshingly straightforward and generally cut to the chase of any conversation.There’s also a few chapters from a few other perspectives, which are also just as entertaining and effective. And though we may think we know all we need to know about a person, there will be a chapter where they up and surprise you. Though they lived in simple times, and maybe lived simple lives, these were no simple people…and years on the trail leaves plenty of time for introspection.”Maybe it takes one demon to keep the others away.” He paused. His eyes glistened with tears now. “Lucifer had been an angel first. I always remembered that.”I also daresay that the harsh and desolate landscape is nearly just as much of a character as the actual people in the book. Harsh, unforgiving, and endless, the path that our settlers/pioneers travel is expertly rendered by Alma Katsu. This book is heavy on atmosphere, with evocative descriptions of the inhospitable landscape and the sheer isolation of the party. This is a somber tale to be sure, though there are few moments of levity thrown in, generally a “head of the nail” observation made by one of the women.Put any two young men together and before long they’d be questioning each other’s smarts, whether they’d ever been with a girl, and the size of their peckers.It must also be said that The Hunger is just plain well written. The vernacular fits the time period, and there are some genuinely beautiful passages. As our intrepid party gets further and further into the unknown reaches of western America, their desperation manifests in interesting ways. The river looked to her like a bed made with clean linens. It looked like home. These are people who have left everything behind them, and on top of an arduous trek across an unforgiving landscape, they have to deal with the growing supernatural threat that is stalking them. Not everyone emerges with their sanity unscathed. Hope, Tamsen realized, could be a very dangerous thing, especially when dealt to desperate hands.And speaking of that supernatural threat…Alma Katsu does a great job of taking the “zombie” concept and turning it on its head, making it fit the theme of the story very well. I read somewhere that this is “The Walking Dead” meets a pioneer trek, and I can honestly say that isn’t the case, and slightly misrepresents the book. I suppose the publishers want to put the name of a well-known cultural hit out there to drum up interest in the book, but it’s almost a disservice to The Hunger. For the Walking Dead zombies and the creatures here in this book are nothing alike, and I actually find Alma Katsu’s creations much more dangerous and interesting. If you like your zombies in the traditional Romero vein, you may have a problem with the creatures here. But if you go in with an open mind, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. I don’t want to say much more about it, as the joy is in the discovery, so we’ll just say that I’ll never look at spare ribs quite the same way again.I was very happy with how the issues of gender and heritage were handled in The Hunger. Neither women nor American Indians were treated particularly well in these times, and Alma Katsu does a good job at showing this, without being insensitive or timid. These were the discriminations of the times, and while they don’t need to be glorified or over-done, they shouldn’t be glossed over either.It was hard to be a young widow in a small town – men assumed things about women who had known a man’s attentions and suddenly had to do without.I did have a few issues with the book, where some part of the tale maybe didn’t add up. Charles Stanton seems to know a lot of what happened to Edwin Bryant when goes off on his own, but then later we are told that the letter that Bryant wrote to Stanton was never delivered to him. So if that’s the case…how did Stanton know who Bryant was travelling with and such? It was mostly just little nit-picky things like that.I also wanted more horror from The Hunger. While it is deep and dark and unsettling, and doesn’t skimp on the blood or violence, it’s not a particularly scary book. Or maybe I’m just inured to the horror, as it takes a LOT to really get to me. But I daresay that even casual readers will find the book more uncomfortable than truly frightening. Fortunately, Alma Katsu pulls no punches when describing victims the infected. And yes, even some of the aspects of cannibalism are described, though not to excessive levels. That said, some of the more squeamish readers may not want to read about when bone marrow and starving people collide...But let’s not have it said that the book isn’t entertaining. It is that, and much more. While I’ve never read anything else by Alma Katsu, I plan to rectify that in the coming months. She’s a damn good author, with a gift for evocative prose and compelling characterization. I was totally hooked by this tale, and absolutely would love to read more of her works.Now...who's up for a rare steak or juicy ribs?
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  • Mogsy (MMOGC)
    January 1, 1970
    4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2018/03/06/...The tragedy of the Donner Party is retold with a supernatural twist in The Hunger, a dark mix of historical fiction and horror. For context, in the May of 1846 a wagon train led by George Donner and James Reed set out from Independence, Missouri like so many other pioneer families hoping to settle a new life in California. Instead of following the typical route, however, the Donner Party opted to travel the new Hastings Cu 4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2018/03/06/...The tragedy of the Donner Party is retold with a supernatural twist in The Hunger, a dark mix of historical fiction and horror. For context, in the May of 1846 a wagon train led by George Donner and James Reed set out from Independence, Missouri like so many other pioneer families hoping to settle a new life in California. Instead of following the typical route, however, the Donner Party opted to travel the new Hastings Cutoff, encountering poor terrain and other difficulties that slowed them down considerably, until they became trapped in heavy snowfall somewhere in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Many of the party died, and some of the survivors allegedly resorted to cannibalism to stay alive.Alma Katsu’s re-imagining of this journey—while staying true to many of the real-life people, places, and events—also plays to the mystery surrounding the terrible fate of the Donner Party, injecting a speculative element in the form of supernatural horror. While one could argue that the facts are already horrific enough, the author takes the suffering, terror, and dread even further still in this Oregon Trail story from hell that makes dysentery seem like a cakewalk. The Hunger follows several characters from the group of almost 90 members in the Donner Party, including Tamsen Donner, George’s wife; James Reed, the co-leader of the group; Mary Graves, a young woman from a large family traveling with the wagon train; and Charles Stanton, a bachelor traveling with the party with no relatives. In addition, periodic interludes are provided in the form of letters written by a journalist named Edwin Bryant, who has undertaken his own journey into the wilderness to conduct research on the mystical traditions of the Native American tribes living in the area.Many of the other families are mentioned as well, bringing the number of people involved in this book to a staggering figure. The result? Virtually limitless potential for complex character dynamics and fascinating relationships. And indeed, Katsu made sure to take full advantage of this, giving her characters interesting backgrounds full of scandal, controversies, and mischiefs. For many, starting a new life also meant leaving the old one behind along with painful, unwanted memories. Flashbacks are provided for most of the major characters, explaining their reasons for heading west. These backstories also explained many of their motivations, and gradually revealed hidden pasts. After all, secrets don’t last for long in conditions such as these, where travelers lived cheek to jowl within cramped confines, sharing spaces with multiple families.As you can imagine, disagreements and bitter rivalries also occurred pretty often, and these clashes only intensified as the Donner Party ran into more problems. In books like The Hunger, the horror aspect usually comes at you at multiple angles. First there is the stifling terror of the unknown, and of course people fear the supernatural because it is impossible to understand. But more frightening still is the underlying darkness of human nature that reveals itself when pushed to extremes. There are two kinds of monsters in this book: the literal kind, but also the kind that good people turn into when they feel trapped or if they or their families are being threatened. Stress, paranoia, and desperation all play a part in this tale, making the horrific aspects feel even deeper, more distressing and malignant.From the moment the mutilated body of a missing boy is found at the beginning of the book, I was wrapped up in the story’s suspense. Graphic descriptions and scenes of violence are used to create horror, but as always, I found that the most nerve-wracking aspects came not so much from what’s written on the page, but rather from what we don’t get to see and from what’s implied. The author utilized these effects to great advantage, slowly dropping hints and details here and there, all the while sowing dissent among the party with spiteful rumors, arguments, and jealousies. An atmosphere of suspense was kept up for the most part, though because of all the POV switches and number of flashbacks involved, these tensions were frequently interrupted. However, this was just a minor nitpick, and besides, considering the amount of character development we got out of it, I deemed it to be a worthy trade-off.The Hunger would be perfect for fans of dark historical fiction, especially if you are drawn to the period of American history which saw a great number of families leave their homes in the east for the west coast. Alma Katsu does not shy away from the details of hardship and sacrifice while on the trail though, so be prepared for a harsh and unflinching look at life as a pioneer. Readers with a taste for horror will probably enjoy this even more, and those familiar with the bizarre and macabre details of the true Donner Party will no doubt appreciate the author’s attempts to spice up the episode with a supernatural twist. All in all, a standout read.
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  • Blair
    January 1, 1970
    In The Hunger, Alma Katsu takes a real historical event – the dreadful fate of the Donner Party – and reimagines it as a horror story. (Of course, you could say it's already a horror story, but in this case it's the supernatural kind.) We follow a large cast of characters as they head out on a journey from Missouri to California in 1846. They're beset by bad luck from the start, and their inept 'leaders' repeatedly ignore warnings to avoid the treacherous route ahead. When a boy goes missing and In The Hunger, Alma Katsu takes a real historical event – the dreadful fate of the Donner Party – and reimagines it as a horror story. (Of course, you could say it's already a horror story, but in this case it's the supernatural kind.) We follow a large cast of characters as they head out on a journey from Missouri to California in 1846. They're beset by bad luck from the start, and their inept 'leaders' repeatedly ignore warnings to avoid the treacherous route ahead. When a boy goes missing and his body is later found bizarrely mutilated, it's just the beginning of a series of horrifying developments that will ultimately claim the lives of many of the party.There are lots of people in this story – the majority of them based on real historical figures. We spend the most time with Charles Stanton, a single man seeking to escape a fraught past; Mary Graves, who falls in love with him; James Reed, another man with secrets he'll do anything to keep; Tamsen Donner, unfaithful wife to George; and Tamsen's 13-year-old stepdaughter Elitha, who hears the voices of the dead. I was a little resistant, at first, to the idea of reading lots of backstory and everyday detail about all these people, but there's more than enough charm and colour to make them intriguing. I actually found the pacing to be the most troublesome thing about the story. In the final third, lots of things happen very quickly, and the potential tension and terror of these climactic events are lost in a confused, fast-moving narrative.Going by the cover and blurb, I assumed the bulk of the story would take place in the frozen mountains – I was hoping for something supremely evocative and chilling, akin to Michelle Paver's Dark Matter. In fact, most of The Hunger sees the group crossing barren desert, and Katsu's main focus is fleshing out the (human) characters. This is great if you're looking for a character-driven historical saga, or want to learn more about the lives of American pioneers in the mid-19th century; not so much if you're in it for the atmosphere and creepy scenes. The end result is a historical novel with an element of supernatural horror in which the latter is largely incidental.I received an advance review copy of The Hunger from the publisher through NetGalley.TinyLetter | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr
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  • Ann Girdharry
    January 1, 1970
    This book is partly based on a historical event and partly fiction. I didn’t know anything about the history of the pioneering settlers on which this story was based and so this book was pure fiction for me. A group of ninety settlers are heading west on a trail across America. They want to get from the east coast to California and are in covered wagons, with horses, mules and oxen accompanying them. There are families, lone men and some lone women with children. Winter is approaching and they d This book is partly based on a historical event and partly fiction. I didn’t know anything about the history of the pioneering settlers on which this story was based and so this book was pure fiction for me. A group of ninety settlers are heading west on a trail across America. They want to get from the east coast to California and are in covered wagons, with horses, mules and oxen accompanying them. There are families, lone men and some lone women with children. Winter is approaching and they decide to take a little known short cut to try to get over the mountains before the snow comes.Basically, it all falls apart. The journey is long and hard. Due to the hardships, divisions rise up amongst the families, people shoot their neighbours, old feuds are re-ignited (mostly between the men) and the group splinters into factions. There are infidelities. There is incest and abuse. Most of the characters seem to have dark secrets they are trying to run away from but the reality is they’ve brought all that baggage with them. In fact, there are so many dark secrets, I began to lose count. Then there is the difficulty of the terrain they are crossing. The terrain is vast with few outposts. It’s a lawless zone. Under poor leadership, they decide to take a little charted trail to cut down on time. This involves crossing a desert where most of their cattle die and the oxen go mad with thirst. Finally, the winter comes on them before they have crossed the mountains and they are trapped with little food and men who are at each other’s throats. In the background of the story there’s a supernatural/horror element. Something or someone seems to be stalking the wagon train and picking off weak members. Children go missing. Mutilated bodies are found. Though, as I understand it, there was an allegation of cannibalism in the historical Donner story, the horror element is the part which diverges from historical facts. The deaths and the feeling of being tracked are layered onto the already plummeting fortunes of the group. This was very well done in parts. At other times, I felt it was impossible to retain the tension at such a high level without the need to shovel in even more dark secrets and more murders. For me, one strength was the depth of the main characters – Charles Stanton, Donner, Keseberg, Reed, Thomas, Mary, Elitha, Tamsen – to name a few. However, there were far too many characters for my liking and it was difficult to distinguish between them, especially in the first half of the book. Another strength was the quality of the writing. Also a strength was the way the author portrayed the historical setting and the atmosphere of the pioneers setting out on a mad adventure into the unknown. However, there were significant weaknesses that spoiled it all – as I mentioned - too many characters, also an unending series of horrible mutilations and deaths - so that by the end, every character I actually liked ended up dying in nasty ways. Who was there left to root for? Well, no one really. Also, there were one or two side stories that hardly made sense and letters that were written where it was difficult to fathom who sent them (and to whom) and when (before or after certain individuals left the wagon train to set out on their own). This is a difficult one to rate. Here is my overall breakdown - 5 stars for writing quality, characterisation and atmosphere. 2 stars for the ending and 3 stars for the thriller element, which, in the end, became a little tedious. That makes something like 4 stars overall. (Bottom line - I enjoyed it. It’s worth reading because it’s unique, but watch out for the pitfalls.) Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a copy of this book. This is my honest review.
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  • Bex (Beckie Bookworm)
    January 1, 1970
    ⭐⭐⭐⭐STARSARC BOOK REVIEW.Release Date-6/3/18"The Hunger" By Alma Katsu was such an immersing read with such diverse interesting characters you couldn't help but become hooked and transfixed by the storyline.With its rich tapestry of history, you actually felt transported back into another place and time.Taking the story of the 90 men, women, and children of the Donner Party, one of the deadliest and most disastrous western Journey's in American history and putting its own horrific slant on it.T ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️STARSARC BOOK REVIEW.Release Date-6/3/18"The Hunger" By Alma Katsu was such an immersing read with such diverse interesting characters you couldn't help but become hooked and transfixed by the storyline.With its rich tapestry of history, you actually felt transported back into another place and time.Taking the story of the 90 men, women, and children of the Donner Party, one of the deadliest and most disastrous western Journey's in American history and putting its own horrific slant on it.The author has managed to meld fact with fiction, giving us this portrayal of history mixed with an ominous presence of dread throughout.The story takes various members of this party and tells its narrative from different POV giving us such a diverse understanding of the dynamics and powers that were at play.Different members insights show the good and bad of all involved here and how easy breakdowns in communication, as well as fear mongering, can spread like a plague throughout a group.This was truly shocking in places and I was suitably impressed with how the fiction had been interwoven into the known facts.Being from the UK I was not aware of the Donner Party myself so this was a new story for me and got to say a very enjoyable read.Give this a go if you like stories rich in history and character.So I was provided with an ARC of "The Hunger" By Netgalley of which I have reviewed voluntary.All opinions expressed are entirely my own.Reviewed By Beckie Bookwormhttps://www.facebook.com/beckiebookworm/www.beckiebookworm.com
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  • Jenny (Reading Envy)
    January 1, 1970
    Any Oregon child studied the Oregon Trail as part of Oregon history, in 4th grade and 8th grade. In 4th grade we played the Oregon Trail computer game in the Intel-provided computer lab, and in 8th grade we did more of a LARP version of the game. My group named itself the Dumber Party, in tribute to the Donner Party. I was Mary Dumber, the only female of the group.Do I even have to say that we were obsessed with the Donner Party? Surviving the trek across the country in covered wagons forced pio Any Oregon child studied the Oregon Trail as part of Oregon history, in 4th grade and 8th grade. In 4th grade we played the Oregon Trail computer game in the Intel-provided computer lab, and in 8th grade we did more of a LARP version of the game. My group named itself the Dumber Party, in tribute to the Donner Party. I was Mary Dumber, the only female of the group.Do I even have to say that we were obsessed with the Donner Party? Surviving the trek across the country in covered wagons forced pioneers to face an endless number of difficult situations. Start too early and you might encounter snow or run out of food. You might encounter natives, die of dysentery, or drown crossing a river. So what if there was even more danger hiding in the woods? What if one of your party is rumored to be a witch, and there are creatures in the woods who aren't quite human, said to devour previous parties attempting to cross? This novel explores these horrors and I really enjoyed it. It's the perfect creepy twist to an already death-defying adventure. Thanks to the publisher for granting me access through Edelweiss. The Hunger came out on March 6, 2018.
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  • Michael Hicks
    January 1, 1970
    With The Hunger, Alma Katsu does for the doomed Donner party what Dan Simmons did for the Franklin Expedition in his massive work, The Terror, giving the ill-fated cross-country voyage a supernatural twist while maintaining historical authenticity (well, to a degree anyway). In May 1846, a group of American pioneers set out for California in a wagon train led by George Donner and James Reed. Their journey was beset by a number of problems and delays, which ultimately caused them to be stuck in t With The Hunger, Alma Katsu does for the doomed Donner party what Dan Simmons did for the Franklin Expedition in his massive work, The Terror, giving the ill-fated cross-country voyage a supernatural twist while maintaining historical authenticity (well, to a degree anyway). In May 1846, a group of American pioneers set out for California in a wagon train led by George Donner and James Reed. Their journey was beset by a number of problems and delays, which ultimately caused them to be stuck in the mountains of the Sierra Nevada during the start of an early and very harsh winter, and with barely any supplies left. Starving and stranded, the travelers wee forced to resort to cannibalism in order to survive.Or did they?Katsu gives the historical record a slight twerk, and while she works tightly within the confines of what we know of the Donner party she still manages to deliver an interesting alternative, threading in a fine line of horror that weaves its way through the expedition and culminates in a savage finale. The Hunger is a slow-burn work of quiet horror, one that draws on Native American folklore to deliver moments of hearty suspense in several well-depicted scenes of terror. What makes the horror truly effective, though, is the cast of characters Katsu focuses on. The supernatural threat is well depicted, but the Donner party itself is a microcosm of horrors and threats all its own. Taking a group of people and thrusting them into a situation, in this case a months-long journey, that slowly breaks down and decays their trust in one another is fraught with its own perils. Tacking on a mysterious horror lurking in the dark, stalking them across the plains and the Great Salt Lake Desert and up into the snowy, impassable mountains of the Sierra Nevada only serves to amplify the frayed nerves of both the Donner party and readers alike.While I dug the heck out of The Hunger and appreciate its gentle reminder that I really do need to read more works of historical horror in this vein, I do wish Katsu had spent more time on the grislier affairs this expedition is best known for. An awful lot of anticipation is built toward these travelers' final months, and while it's all very necessary and quite well-told, we're short shrifted by the time December and January 1847 roll around. I will admit, though, that I am a bit of a gore hound, and one that has perhaps been spoiled by small press horror titles that aren't afraid to dive headlong into the darkness. I found myself wondering what Jack Ketchum would do with this book's climax, and I wish Katsu would have been more willing to deliver on the depravity she'd spent so long building toward. I really wanted to see her dig into the blood and guts of it all and get her hands filthy. After nearly 300+ pages, the finale is too much telling and not enough showing, and feels practically weightless in light of all that came before.This reservation aside, though, The Hunger was ultimately satisfying despite a climax that didn't forcefully enough deliver on the promise of Alma Katsu's premise. Had there been more pages devoted to exploring and fleshing out the last few grisly months of the Donner party, this could have easily been a five-star read for me. In the end, it feels like too much was glossed over for the sake of playing it safe, which is unfortunate to say the least. Still, the characters are superb and have engaging histories, and there are some worthwhile shocks along the way that give The Hunger plenty of intrigue to keep the pages turning.[Note: I received an ARC of this title from the publisher.]
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  • Justine
    January 1, 1970
    A retelling of the famous story of the ill-fated wagon train with an added twist. Not only are there horrors in the form of fellow travellers within the group, their behaviour worsening as conditions decline, but there is also something stalking the group into the mountains.Katsu's writing is tight and evenly paced. The story builds inexorably to the inevitable and horrific conclusion we all know is coming, making for a tense and compelling read.Death had been chasing them a long while, she knew A retelling of the famous story of the ill-fated wagon train with an added twist. Not only are there horrors in the form of fellow travellers within the group, their behaviour worsening as conditions decline, but there is also something stalking the group into the mountains.Katsu's writing is tight and evenly paced. The story builds inexorably to the inevitable and horrific conclusion we all know is coming, making for a tense and compelling read.Death had been chasing them a long while, she knew, but it had never gotten this close. Now it was at their heels like a begging dog; the smell of it in their hair and under their fingernails. It was everywhere, and it was waiting.
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  • Mindi
    January 1, 1970
    A big thank you to Glasstown Ent. for providing this book in exchange for an honest review.I'm a huge fan of historical fiction with a paranormal twist. Books like Dan Simmons' The Terror and The Abominable are some of my favorites in the genre, and both have a paranormal threat on top of an already dire situation. When I heard that Katsu was coming out with a book about The Donner Party facing a paranormal entity, I practically squealed in delight. This was a book that I instantly NEEDED. The H A big thank you to Glasstown Ent. for providing this book in exchange for an honest review.I'm a huge fan of historical fiction with a paranormal twist. Books like Dan Simmons' The Terror and The Abominable are some of my favorites in the genre, and both have a paranormal threat on top of an already dire situation. When I heard that Katsu was coming out with a book about The Donner Party facing a paranormal entity, I practically squealed in delight. This was a book that I instantly NEEDED. The Hunger is definitely a slow burn. It takes its time letting the reader understand the hardships and perils of moving by wagon train across the country in 1846. Not only that, but Katsu spends ample time with flashbacks that give each character more of a backstory. It seems like most of the pioneers have a secret, and so for many of them risking their lives on the trail is more appealing than living back east with a past that haunts them. California promises a fresh start, so all of the families in the The Donner wagon train are initially optimistic and in good spirits. At some point along the trail Donner becomes the leader of the group, and thus his name is forever associated with one of the most chilling stories in American history. As the group continues west, rations start to disappear and tensions mount. Too many of the men feel that they are better suited to lead the party, especially after a boy goes missing while they are camped, and they later find his mutilated body. The group wants to blame the incident on animals or even Indians in the area, but all of them know that the boy's body is mutilated far beyond what any man or animal is capable of, and each person who saw the body starts to entertain thoughts of something more sinister possibly following the wagon train. I'm not going to spoil anything further, but things continue to get worse for the party, as groups begin to form, rations continue to dwindle, and Donner outright refuses to listen to warnings from pioneers further up the trail who tell him to follow a different route, that they will surely not make it to California if they continue on the path they have chosen. Most people know the real story of the Donner Party, and Katsu uses those details expertly while weaving in a sinister threat that is eventually revealed toward the end of the novel. I was thoroughly invested in this story and in the characters. The entire time you know the whole party is doomed, and yet you still root for them. You still hope that they will take a different route, or even go back and winter at one of the forts they passed on their journey west. But none of that happened in real life, and so the Donner Party trudges on, while something beyond their wagons watches them. Something that is hungry. Something that will never give up. This would have been a 5 star read for me if only the end had been different. After such a slow burn, after teasing something so sinister and evil for almost the entire book, I was waiting for an absolute gut punch ending. Sadly, the very end of the book is a bit of a disappointment. The Hunger is a well written historical fiction/horror novel that had me invested from the very beginning. Even though you know the ultimate outcome from the very first chapter, this is still a book that has you sitting on the edge of your seat.
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  • Amy
    January 1, 1970
    I wasn’t familiar with the Donner Party but I liked the idea of a historical reimagining that blended fact and fiction with a supernatural twist and when I read a bit about the real life Donner Party I was both horrified and fascinated. That basically sums up my emotional state while read The Hunger I was creeped out one minute and totally engaged the next, I really enjoyed this one.This is divided into sections by month and follows the Donner Party as they embark on a treacherous journey battli I wasn’t familiar with the Donner Party but I liked the idea of a historical reimagining that blended fact and fiction with a supernatural twist and when I read a bit about the real life Donner Party I was both horrified and fascinated. That basically sums up my emotional state while read The Hunger I was creeped out one minute and totally engaged the next, I really enjoyed this one.This is divided into sections by month and follows the Donner Party as they embark on a treacherous journey battling the elements and also the unknown. You hear from various people including Tamsen, George Donner’s wife who terrifies the others as they think her remedies and tonics must be witchcraft, Stanton a man with a dark past and a mysterious aura and Elitha a young woman who hears voices, but is she crazy or are they real? It was so interesting to see the same events through several eyes and get various interpretations of what the group was experiencing, things are intensely trying and seeing how they dealt with the trials and tribulations was endlessly interesting.This was hauntingly atmospheric, you see the Donner Party deal with extreme heat and the bitter cold and throughout it all there is a stark desperation that is palpable. Their fear, panic and the bleak, unrelenting climate coupled with a supernatural aspect made for a chilling read.The Hunger in three words: Creepy, Atmospheric and Brutal.
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  • Susan
    January 1, 1970
    Set between June 1846 and April 1847, this novel is based upon the true story of, “the Donner Party,” which involved a wagon train heading to California, which ended in tragedy. Shockingly, the actual members of the wagon train relied on a book published at the time, “The Emigrants Guide to Oregon and California,” by an author named Landsford W. Hastings, which advertised a shortcut the author had actually never tested out.The author weaves her story around this real life tragedy; incorporating Set between June 1846 and April 1847, this novel is based upon the true story of, “the Donner Party,” which involved a wagon train heading to California, which ended in tragedy. Shockingly, the actual members of the wagon train relied on a book published at the time, “The Emigrants Guide to Oregon and California,” by an author named Landsford W. Hastings, which advertised a shortcut the author had actually never tested out.The author weaves her story around this real life tragedy; incorporating an element of the supernatural into events which were already harrowing. The wagon train contains a whole host of families, and some single men, who are all hoping for a better life. Among the various members are those with secrets in their past and, when things begin going wrong, they are viewed with suspicion by their fellow travellers. Despite the difficult subject matter, I found this to be an extremely interesting read. I can see why the author changed so much, but it has left me wishing to read a non-fiction account of this tragedy; possibly, “The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of the Donner Party,” by Daniel James Brown. I love books which lead me on to other books and which inform me of periods of history, and events, about which I was previously unaware.
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  • Cody | codysbookshelf
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to the publisher for supplying the Nightworms with hardcover copies of this book, free of charge, in exchange for honest reviews!Alma Katsu’s The Hunger is one of the most hyped books of the season and with good reason: this twist on the infamous Donner Party is chilling, and well-told. Through a proper mixture of fact and fiction, Katsu brings to life the Donner Party and the period in which it traveled west, to California, in the mid-1800s. Historical horror fiction can be riveting and Thanks to the publisher for supplying the Nightworms with hardcover copies of this book, free of charge, in exchange for honest reviews!Alma Katsu’s The Hunger is one of the most hyped books of the season and with good reason: this twist on the infamous Donner Party is chilling, and well-told. Through a proper mixture of fact and fiction, Katsu brings to life the Donner Party and the period in which it traveled west, to California, in the mid-1800s. Historical horror fiction can be riveting and fantastic if done well — this book is done well. At the risk of falling into cliché, I could not put this book down; I finished it in a matter of two days.Through alternating characters’ perspectives the reader gets a wide view of the mounting horror as this group of people traveled through hot, hot weather and eventually snow; with food rations quickly depleting and the threat of an unknown, malevolent force stalking the wagon party, this novel delivers spooks while offering phenomenal character work and scenes of indelible drama. Unfortunately, the ending does fall a bit flat. Not enough to mar the reading experience as a whole, no; the note the author chooses to end on is simply too lowkey, especially given what is promised to the reader. Some questions remain unanswered, and I feel the author pulled a few punches when writing the final chapter. Still, this is a solid read — one sure to appeal to horror fans and historical fiction fans alike.
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  • Kimberly
    January 1, 1970
    THE HUNGER, by Alma Katsu, is a well written, original take on what "could" have happened to the infamous Donner Party. While everyone has heard of the fatal 1846 attempt at crossing to California, and what the members succumbed to in order to survive, this novel takes it on a different note altogether. ". . . Snow kept secrets . . . " Katsu bases her novel on giving us great details on the various members of the Donner-Reed party, including a fascinating fictional tale of what they might have b THE HUNGER, by Alma Katsu, is a well written, original take on what "could" have happened to the infamous Donner Party. While everyone has heard of the fatal 1846 attempt at crossing to California, and what the members succumbed to in order to survive, this novel takes it on a different note altogether. ". . . Snow kept secrets . . . " Katsu bases her novel on giving us great details on the various members of the Donner-Reed party, including a fascinating fictional tale of what they might have been like during those final months. ". . . I don't believe in monsters . . . Only men who behave like them . . ." While the "enemy" was given a more distinct face here, it was the events that happened amongst the party members and the dynamics between them that really captivated my attention. Even with the given catalyst, this novel felt very character-driven to me. . . . Hope . . . could be a very dangerous thing, especially when dealt to desperate hands." Overall, I felt this was a very original novel, with a smooth writing style and characters that you wanted to know and believe in. Unfortunately, in my personal case, every time I started getting "caught up" in a particular character or two's events, my mind would jump in with what happened to them by the end of the journey. This was in no way the author's fault, just my own knowledge sabotaging my enjoyment by not letting me get too close to any of the characters. Had the REAL names and characters not been used, I probably would have mentally "allowed" myself to get more into their lives and believe that things could work out in different ways. As it was, the reality-check kept me from getting the most out of this one. . . . the mountains, like most beautiful things in this world, were deadly . . . " A great writing style from an author I'd like to read more from in the future.Recommended.
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  • Rob Twinem
    January 1, 1970
    The hardcover of this book, due for release in early march, shows a horse drawn wagon heading out into uncharted territory. This represented the pioneering spirit of American settlers heading west for California who felt confident in the knowledge that they were destined to occupy this territory irrespective of the affect their actions might have on the indigenous native American tribes who already populated these regions. The Hunger recalls one particular group of travellers historically referr The hardcover of this book, due for release in early march, shows a horse drawn wagon heading out into uncharted territory. This represented the pioneering spirit of American settlers heading west for California who felt confident in the knowledge that they were destined to occupy this territory irrespective of the affect their actions might have on the indigenous native American tribes who already populated these regions. The Hunger recalls one particular group of travellers historically referred to as the "Donner Party", led by Jacob and George Donner, who in the spring of 1846 departed Springfield Illinois on a perilous 2500 mile journey their intended destination the Mexican province of alta California. Poor planning, bad decision and snowstorms caused a number of the original pioneers to become trapped in the mountains during the severe winter of 1846. When food ran out it was said that they resorted to cannibalism; the unthinkable had happened in order to survive.Alma Katsu expertly uses the harsh unforgiving environment and that deep rooted human weakness, fear of darkness and the unknown, to instil in the travellers a paranoia that something evil is out there stalking them....."He saw teeth sharpened like iron nails, and too many of them, far too many-a long slick of throat, like a dark tunnel, and that horrible tongue slapping like a blind animal feeling for it prey."...Some excellent characterization really made the story come alive as long held dark secrets gradually emerged. James Reed owner of a large furniture business in Springfield, married to an older woman, yet tortured inwardly by personal feelings, dark thoughts and undisclosed encounters. Charles Stanton, the quiet anti-hero whom Mary Graves...."was giddily, stupidly, happily in love.".....Tamsen Donner, young bride to George Donner, her beauty and wayward ways causing discern and rumour amongst the gradually starving disillusioned pioneers. As bad weather, low rations, and poor decisions prevailed the.... "creatures that fed on human flesh".....selected and noisily consumed the weak and innocent.What I loved about this novel was the seamless blending of historical facts with a modern horror theme, a wolf like predator with an unquenchable longing for human flesh. As a British reader I must confess to my ignorance of the Donner Party and was pleased that the author included an "historical note" which greatly added to my enjoyment of the overall story. There were many fine observations in this ill fated journey non better than a quote at the conclusion of chapter 21....."Then the Lord must be mightily displeased with you, because he has led you into the valley of death. Make peace with your Lord before it is too late, because the hungry ones are coming for you.".... Many thanks to the good people at netgalley for this gratis copy in exchange for an honest review and that is what I have written. Recommended.
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  • Emily
    January 1, 1970
    "He told her of a hunger that lodged not in his stomach, but his blood, an excavating hunger that festered like an unclean wound." (148)2.5⭐The story of The Hunger is a fascinating concept, and I have been so excited for this book for months. As you can tell from my rating, this book was pretty hyped, and I ended up disappointed. The Hunger is a slow-burn story, but the sense of dread that carries out from the beginning is so well done. I was expectantly waiting for it all to come together in th "He told her of a hunger that lodged not in his stomach, but his blood, an excavating hunger that festered like an unclean wound." (148)2.5⭐The story of The Hunger is a fascinating concept, and I have been so excited for this book for months. As you can tell from my rating, this book was pretty hyped, and I ended up disappointed. The Hunger is a slow-burn story, but the sense of dread that carries out from the beginning is so well done. I was expectantly waiting for it all to come together in the end, but the book became more and more disjointed and confusing. There were too many characters, and it was hard to keep track of everyone. I think I would have had a better time with the book if there would have been more focus on fewer characters, and everyone else was left to the background. The chronology also got complicated - more flashbacks started popping up as the book went on, and it all became sort of convoluted. In the end, I was left with many more questions than answers. The sense of unsettling anticipation began to fade for me during the second half or the book when I realized the focus was being removed from potential creepiness and put onto other things - mainly romance. Characters started falling in love, and I was just ready for them to eat each other. I think Alma Katsu had a lot of good ideas, but it just wasn't a very cohesive story in the end. I was happy to hear in her afterword that she took the time to get a sensitivity reader, and that shows that she cares about her projects & the people who will be reading them. The Hunger will be great for the right reader - if you like historical fiction with a bit of spookiness, or paranormal westerns, this book will probably be for you. I enjoyed Alma Katsu's creativity, and despite my low rating for this book, I would love to see what else she comes up with. Thank you so much to Glasstown Entertainment & Alma Katsu for sending early copies to the Night Worms!
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  • Joanne Harris
    January 1, 1970
    Uneasy, nauseous, slow-burning tale that marries historical fiction with a hint of the supernatural. Great detailing; colourful characterization; some supremely ominous stuff, but always reigned in at the final moment to rack up the tension even more. Loved it. Will search out more of the author's work...
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  • The Book Review Café
    January 1, 1970
    The Hunger by Alma Katsu is part historical fiction and part supernatural/horror. Based on a true story the author has masterfully blurred the lines between fact and fiction, even the fictional parts seemed very credible which made this book even more chilling to read. Based on the Donner party’s tragic crossing of America in the 1840s, it follows a group of settlers who head across the unrelenting plains in search of new beginnings but find themselves hunted by an unknown prey.The author has an The Hunger by Alma Katsu is part historical fiction and part supernatural/horror. Based on a true story the author has masterfully blurred the lines between fact and fiction, even the fictional parts seemed very credible which made this book even more chilling to read. Based on the Donner party’s tragic crossing of America in the 1840s, it follows a group of settlers who head across the unrelenting plains in search of new beginnings but find themselves hunted by an unknown prey.The author has an extraordinary ability to describe her settings, and the difficulties faced by the Donner party with such conviction that I felt like I was there along side them, I felt their fear, despair, and paranoia growing as the ill fated party struggle to survive in a hostile environment. The first half of the book is slow but please don’t let that put you off, as the author builds tension into the plot through her characters, and the threat of the unknown as children start to go missing. Each pioneer has joined the journey for a very different reason and each one has something to hide, which brings an authenticity to the story so the reader feel as if they really know and understand the characters. As the book progresses the characters secrets are revealed fuelling the tension, mistrust and violence amongst the pioneers.Alma Katsu’s writing is poetic at times as she describes a journey that causes hardship, hunger and madness. The writing is intense and steeped in atmosphere, as the reader the sense of foreboding grows. The Hunger is broken into months which I thought worked very well, it shows how relationships can fracture when faced with adversity and the lengths people will go to to survive.As each month grows darker, the author describes the decline in the Pioneers, hunger and fear begin to overwhelm them, with that comes discord within the party with themes of jealousy, lust, mistrust and the forefront.As the pioneers find themselves stranded, starving and fighting for survival the horror/supernatural aspect of the novel takes over and that’s when The Hunger comes into its own. At this point the atmosphere becomes much darker, the sense of dread more palatable. The author has created a terrifying and deeply unsettling story, reminiscent of The Revenant with a hint of the supernatural, it’s a book that turned out to be a hell of a read considering I picked it up with reservations. Highly recommended.All my reviews can be found at http://thebookreviewcafe.com
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  • Isabel
    January 1, 1970
    This book made me appreciate the fact that I’m a vegetarian, no friends or neighbors hidden away in my dinner, thank you. I do not recommend this book to be last thing to read before settling in for the night, otherwise read it👍
  • Melissa Crytzer Fry
    January 1, 1970
    I am not generally a reader of thrillers or horror books – which is why I don’t quite feel qualified to rate this book (our June book club pick). So, I will begin by sharing that the members of my book club have already reported back to say they LOVED it and couldn’t put it down. Others whose opinions I value on Goodreads have read and loved this book as well.What’s more, Alma Katsu’s The Hunger has even garnered the praise of Stephen King, himself. And while I enjoyed the story with its superna I am not generally a reader of thrillers or horror books – which is why I don’t quite feel qualified to rate this book (our June book club pick). So, I will begin by sharing that the members of my book club have already reported back to say they LOVED it and couldn’t put it down. Others whose opinions I value on Goodreads have read and loved this book as well.What’s more, Alma Katsu’s The Hunger has even garnered the praise of Stephen King, himself. And while I enjoyed the story with its supernatural twist on the historic Donner wagon party’s ill-fated excursion in the 1840s, I have to admit to having a bias toward the author’s debut novel, The Taker. That, in itself, may not be fair either, as the two books are written in completely different styles. The first is a more character-driven literary novel, the second more commercial.Even though this isn’t my standard fare, there was much to be admired in this fast-paced thriller: sympathetic characters (though a cast of many), anxiety, historic period details, and a sense of unease. Alma Katsu has proven to be a gifted writer in multiple genres. So, if you enjoy thrillers with a touch of horror and the supernatural, this one certainly won’t disappoint!
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  • Lou
    January 1, 1970
    This is another one of those books that walks the tightrope between crime thriller and horror - of late, I have really enjoyed these type of stories. It is based on the Donner party tragedy where a party of pioneers travelling across the American West searching for a better life experience a nightmare. Most Americans have heard this tale, but being British, I had not come across it before. I looked it up and was instantly fascinated by it. This is, at its heart, a thriller but one that draws on This is another one of those books that walks the tightrope between crime thriller and horror - of late, I have really enjoyed these type of stories. It is based on the Donner party tragedy where a party of pioneers travelling across the American West searching for a better life experience a nightmare. Most Americans have heard this tale, but being British, I had not come across it before. I looked it up and was instantly fascinated by it. This is, at its heart, a thriller but one that draws on American history and features a supernatural element. This amalgamation of genres makes for a thoroughly intriguing read. I found myself thinking about it in the time between reading and long after finishing it.THE HUNGER gets into your head. It's a truly chilling and disturbing read, something I very much appreciated. It is a slow-burn which works well with the setting and the story. The mixture of fact and fiction is done seamlessly, Katsu manages to create an unnerving atmosphere throughout, a feeling of dread, and as everything unfolds, it becomes more and more sinister. A strong and complex portrayal of the times, I can't say how well the true story was adapted into fiction as I was not familiar with it before this book. One slight gripe I had was that there were a LOT of characters, so at times it was a little confusing as the POV changes between several different people.I would like to thank Alma Katsu, Random House UK - Transworld, and NetGalley for the opportunity to read an ARC in exchange for an honest and impartial review.
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  • Liz Barnsley
    January 1, 1970
    The Hunger was an interesting read for me, for the most part very excellent -taking the well known story of the Donner party tragedy and adding in speculative supernatural and horror, this is a slow burn towards terror, which is much more of a character drama than it is any kind of thriller until right at the end. At that point though you might want to engage the axe proof duvet.A group of travellers run into issue after issue, a child disappears and is later found mutilated, food is growing sho The Hunger was an interesting read for me, for the most part very excellent -taking the well known story of the Donner party tragedy and adding in speculative supernatural and horror, this is a slow burn towards terror, which is much more of a character drama than it is any kind of thriller until right at the end. At that point though you might want to engage the axe proof duvet.A group of travellers run into issue after issue, a child disappears and is later found mutilated, food is growing short and the road they are on is untested. Add into that various interpersonal quarrels and interactions and it is surprising that they didn’t all kill each other before the actual thing that happens. The author builds her characters with huge depth and at a considered pace -this both works, because by the time they are all in trouble you are genuinely engaged with them – and doesn’t because it is a little convoluted in places and there are a lot of characters to separate, some of whom sound entirely familiar to each other. The end is an adrenalin rush coming upon you almost too suddenly…Overall though it works very well. Descriptively speaking this is beautifully done, you get the sense of time and place brilliantly and the end of The Hunger is scary scary stuff – it is a reading journey but definitely one worth taking.
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  • Mariana
    January 1, 1970
    Hay sucesos de la vida real tan sórdidos y perturbadores que inspiran obras de ficción en las cuales intentamos entender qué demonios pasó o ponerle una cara a ese horror que las personas en cuestión tuvieron que enfrentar."The Hunger" está basado en un hecho real ocurrido en 1846. La Expedición Donner, conformada por aproximadamente 80 pioneros intentó llegar desde Wyoming hasta California. Siguiendo una ruta relativamente nueva, los pioneros dejaron sus casas, empacaron todas sus pertenencias Hay sucesos de la vida real tan sórdidos y perturbadores que inspiran obras de ficción en las cuales intentamos entender qué demonios pasó o ponerle una cara a ese horror que las personas en cuestión tuvieron que enfrentar."The Hunger" está basado en un hecho real ocurrido en 1846. La Expedición Donner, conformada por aproximadamente 80 pioneros intentó llegar desde Wyoming hasta California. Siguiendo una ruta relativamente nueva, los pioneros dejaron sus casas, empacaron todas sus pertenencias y subieron a sus familias a los vagones para empezar este recorrido que estaría lleno de peligro, pero que prometía una nueva vida y mejores oportunidades.Al menos 40 personas de la expedición murieron. Los pioneros se enfrentaron a terribles condiciones climáticas y la ruta que siguieron, los llevó a enfrentar dificultades para las cuales no estaban preparados, quedándose sin comida y teniendo que recurrir al canibalismo para sobrevivir.Los personajes de Alma Katsu se llaman y están inspirados en los verdaderos pioneros de esta expedición, sin embargo, ella añade una fuerza sobrenatural que los persigue a donde van. Una especie de wendigos (aunque ella no los llama así en el libro), espíritus caníbales que quieren devorar y destripar a los miembros de la expedición.El libro está narrado desde la perspectiva de diversos pioneros, a través de sus ojos vamos viendo la histeria colectiva, como van afectando las muertes al equilibrio y relaciones entre los miembros de la expedición y vamos descubriendo los oscuros secretos que cada uno de ellos guarda y que incluso podrían estar relacionados con las entidades que buscan devorarlos.Es un libro que disfruté bastante, sobre todo porque no sabía nada de este incidente antes de leer la novela; la construcción de los personajes es buena y logra que te intereses por ellos, que esperes un final distinto a pesar de saber que todo acabó en tragedia. La única crítica es que entre tantos puntos de vista de pronto se pierde un poco el hilo del terror, estamos desentrañando los misterios y pasados de todos y el peligro que los acecha en las sombras parece ser algo secundario en lugar del enfoque principal del libro.No da miedo, pero sí logra ponerte ansioso y hay un par de descripciones bastantes sangrientas. Lo disfruté.
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  • Chandra Claypool (wherethereadergrows)
    January 1, 1970
    An unsettling, eerie and atmospheric tale of survival. Do you know anything about the history of the Donner Party? I remembered some of it so I did a little research on it before I read Alma's fictionalized version. She does an OUTSTANDING job and I loved reading the end where she explained some of the differentiation.Let me just say that I'm glad I was not living through the pioneering era of the world. Granted, had I lived during that time I wouldn't have known any different but..... Also, as An unsettling, eerie and atmospheric tale of survival. Do you know anything about the history of the Donner Party? I remembered some of it so I did a little research on it before I read Alma's fictionalized version. She does an OUTSTANDING job and I loved reading the end where she explained some of the differentiation.Let me just say that I'm glad I was not living through the pioneering era of the world. Granted, had I lived during that time I wouldn't have known any different but..... Also, as a person who is not the biggest fan of historical fiction, when you lean it towards a horror setting, in which case even the true story was horrific, then somehow my demented mind MUST READ IT.Divided by months, with eerie looking divider pages that add to the feel of the book, we get the point of views of a variety of people along with letters written back and forth. Read or not? We'll never really know! Each month builds on the suspense of the novel as we see people start to descent into madness, the horrors waiting around them and the mindset of knowing they will probably die... and doing anything they can to survive.How long can you watch your food supply dwindle... how long can you starve... how long do you stay sane knowing something is out there and YOU are THEIR food? Follow these pioneers to the brink of madness and feel their terror. Thank you to G.P. Putnam's Sons and Glasstown Entertainment for this copy in return for my honest opinion.
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