The River at Night by Erica Ferencik

Happy hump day, everyone! This week seems to have gone by so fast, but maybe that’s because we had a holiday on Monday {the worst day ever}. Whatever it is, there’s only two days left of this week and then the weekend and that means a whole lot of nothing! So, to get you through today, I decided to bring you a thriller of epic proportions, The River at Night by Erica Ferencik.


Title: The River at Night {304 pgs}

Genre: Thriler/Adventure

Publication Date: January 10, 2017


Winifred Allen needs a vacation.

Stifled by a soul-crushing job, devastated by the death of her beloved brother, and lonely after the end of a fifteen-year marriage, Wini is feeling vulnerable. So when her three best friends insist on a high-octane getaway for their annual girls’ trip, she signs on, despite her misgivings.

What starts out as an invigorating hiking and rafting excursion in the remote Allagash Wilderness soon becomes an all-too-real nightmare: A freak accident leaves the women stranded, separating them from their raft and everything they need to survive. When night descends, a fire on the mountainside lures them to a ramshackle camp that appears to be their lifeline. But as Wini and her friends grasp the true intent of their supposed saviors, long buried secrets emerge and lifelong allegiances are put to the test. To survive, Wini must reach beyond the world she knows to harness an inner strength she never knew she possessed.

This is one of those books where I can honestly say that I did not expect anything that happened to actually happen.

Wini is such a relatable character because she is everything I am: hates the outdoors, scared of bugs, and plans on the very worst happening. To say that she’s not into this vacation with her friends is an understatement. But she never has a moment where she turns from terrified woman into a superhero, and I love that. I appreciate that she doesn’t take the reigns when the unimaginable happens, but instead debates with herself whether or not she’s going to survive. She does have her moments where she’s strong and brave, but she’s not untouchable. She has had to deal with too much loss in her life, and she the only reason she pushes to survive is because she knows she can’t deal with anymore. It was interesting to watch {read?} her grow up, but also remain the exact same. Those are always my favorite characters, because they feel more real to me.

On the other side of Wini is her best friend Pia, a woman who knows what she wants in life and won’t let a little thing like getting lost in the woods stop her. Or so she thinks. Watching her slowly break down when tragedy after tragedy slams into her is a glimpse at human nature. She realizes that she doesn’t have all the answers, that no one really does, and being out of control does not suit her. But there’s nothing she can do, after dragging her friends on a trip that none of them were too excited about and then watching them all be dragged down by her decision.

This is definitely one of those books where I try to put myself in the characters’ shoes and see what I would do. It made me realize that I don’t have half the bravery that these women have. I would have buried myself under leaves and waited for someone – or something – to find me. Seriously, I’m not the best at the outdoor deal, just like these women, but I would not have had the kind of gumption that they had. They did their best to survive with the tools they had, which wasn’t much at all.

One of the most surprising parts of this book had to do with Dean, a young man living with his mother in the wilderness. There’s really not much I can say about Dean without giving away a lot, so all I’ll say is this: Dean is sweet and caring and it’s a shame what life dealt him. I will say this much, I guess: I’m glad Dean gets a happy ending, or at least, a happier ending that he would have had if the four friends had never stumbled upon him and his mother.

Simply, this book is about the friendship between four women and what would happen to that friendship was testing to the limits. Their test is strenuous and harmful, and working their way through it seems impossible.

I’ll be honest: this book haunted me for weeks after I read it. I already hate the ocean, and now I hate rivers. But I’m so, so glad I read this book, because it reminded me of those old  horror movies where you’re not entirely sure there’s going to be a character left at the end, and you’re not sure if you’ll be happier for all involved if that’s the case. So, be warned: this book is terrifying and pushes people to the limit, but if you survive, you’ll be forever grateful.

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