As I flicked through the preamble to this novel, I saw five words that made me instantly regret requesting it for review – “based on a true story”. I’d read the little description, and somehow decided that it was going to be a horror; instead, I’d ended up with a fictionalised history of a group of American pioneers, which was about as far from what I’d normally choose as it could possibly be. However, I had requested it, so I needed to read and review it.
I’d never heard of the Donner Party before; I don’t remember covering any American history in school and even if we did, that was decades ago. Maybe that helped, in that I had no preconceived ideas of the characters described, but it also meant that there were suddenly masses of people that I needed to remember. This was a struggle, so I’d very much recommend jotting down the family groups and their members as you go. Seven people stood out fairly quickly, but the rest remained pretty ephemeral throughout, which didn’t help with the narrative.
This is all sounding terribly negative, but I quite enjoyed the book, which turned out to have a touch of the supernatural about it after all. The characters that did stick with me stuck well, and the story moved along quickly. There could have been more detail of the journey, but maybe that was only lacking because I didn’t know the history behind the story. It’s made me interested enough to research the actual historical accounts of what was an epic journey, even without the extra difficulties the group ended up facing.
I received this copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review