The Hunger by: Alma Katsu

Evil is invisible, and it is everywhere.

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 isolated travelers to the brink of madness. Though they dream of what awaits them in the West, long-buried secrets begin to emerge, and dissent among them escalates to the point of murder and chaos. They cannot seem to escape tragedy…or the feelings that someone–or something–is stalking them. Whether it’s a curse from the beautiful Tamsen Donner (who some think might be a witch), their ill-advised choice of route through uncharted terrain, or just plain bad luck, the ninety men, women, and children of the Donner Party are heading into one of one of the deadliest and most disastrous Western adventures in American history.

As members of the group begin to disappear, the survivors start to wonder if there really is something disturbing, and hungry, waiting for them in the mountains…and whether the evil that has unfolded around them may have in fact been growing within them all along. “

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Potential triggers…

  • Child abuse/sexual assault
  • Attempted rape
  • Racism
  • Cannibalisms
  • Murder
  • Starvation
  • Death, and murder, of relatives

I remember in school briefly hearing about The Donner Party, a group of pioneers who had such a hard journey, and so many losses, they resorted to cannibalism. When given the chance to join Baker.Reads book club and read this book I thought…why not?

Before joining the book club I’d never heard of this book…but the idea of a retelling with potential paranormal elements? It was too good to pass up. Knowing that Baker.Reads has a much stronger stomach than I do (check out some of the books he talks about on Tiktok and you’ll know what I mean) I was also a bit nervous to read this book…I genuinely had no idea what I was getting myself into.

I was pleasantly surprised at home much I enjoyed reading this book. There wasn’t really any scenes in it that got graphic in their descriptions. Other than a few topics that might be harder for someone younger to think about (cannibalism, human sacrifice, child murder, and mention of child sexual abuse) this book never went into gory, or descriptive, details even when it came to the listed subjects.

This book went back and forth between nine different perspectives and occasionally flashed back to times that helped us further understand some of the characters and why they were on the trail. What was fascinating was discovering how linked these people were, whether they realized it or not. Different times in their past, even a small decision, led them all to be together on this journey.

Now if you are more into fast-paced stories, ones with clear beginnings leading up to a climax and then the end…this is not the book for you. If you are fascinated by peeking into the day-to-day lives of different people as they do seemingly mundane things…you’ll really enjoy diving into this book.

As I read through the different perspectives, I kept expecting some huge climactic moment that never came. There was plenty of mystery and discovery but in a slower-paced natural way…if that makes sense. It genuinely felt like I was just a fly on the wall, getting to know all these people and seeing the different decisions that not only leads them to this journey but the decisions that kept them pressing on too.

This was also a book where the author’s notes, at the end of the book, were fascinating to read through. Alma explained why she decided to exclude certain members of the party, as well as adding in fictional party members. Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book and look forward to seeing what else Alma has written.

Published by Noelle Loves Books

Growing up, Japanese and Indigenous, it was hard to find books that showcased stories and worlds that accurately portrayed Noelle’s experiences. Fantasy quickly became her main love, as you could really be anyone, anywhere. As the years went on, and technology grew, Noelle was finally able to see more stories and authors that looked and felt like her. Noelle is open to all genre’s though she can mostly be found reading own voice, fantasy, and romance. Ratings: 5 Stars: Completely blew me away 4 Stars: Loved the story but didn't feel completely blown away by it 3 Stars: Liked the overall concept of the story but either had poor execution, had a lot of plot holes, or was written poorly 2 Stars: I struggled to understand the plot, poorly written, or just had really unlikeable characters along with a poor writing 1 Star: Horribly written, major plot holes, or extremely unlikeable characters and plots.

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