Book review: Thin Air

Michelle Paver1935, the Himalayas. A team arrives in Darjeeling, in preparation for climbing Kanchenjunga. A retired climber, who attempted the same climb, warns the team’s doctor to cancel the climb, or take another route. And so begins Thin Air by Michelle Paver, a tale balancing the power of nature, the vulnerability of man’s minds, and the toxic mix of superstition and arrogance.

Is the retired climber right, is there something bad out there? If so, what? Can the past come back to haunt you? No-one has stood on the very peak of Kanchenjunga, the locals believe it is bad luck to do so. At her website, Michelle Paver writes about her expeditions – she travels extensively to research her novels – and it shows that she has been there. Throw into the mix some bitter sibling rivalry, class snobbishness and Sherpa superstitions, and you have an atmospheric thriller which makes you really feel you are there, with them, stranded in a tent in a Himalayan blizzard.

Billed by some as a ghost story, this is more an account of psychological terror: as the mountaineers climb higher, the tension tightens. Is their bitching, sniping and forgetfulness a symptom of altitude sickness? Is the doctor hallucinating, or are his sightings a sign of a something more sinister?

I loved her previous ‘ghost/terror’ novel, Dark Matter. This is similar, the tension tightens slowly, with the turn of every page, until you cannot put the book down.

Read more about Michelle Paver at her website.

If you like ‘Thin Air’, try these ghostly mysteries:-
‘Dark Matter’ by Michelle Paver
‘A Sudden Light’ by Garth Stein
‘The House on Cold Hill’ by Peter James

‘Thin Air’ by Michelle Paver [UK: Orion] Buy at Amazon

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Mountains/tragedy/ghosts THIN AIR by @MichellePaver #bookreview via @SandraDanby

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