New from horror writer Sarah Gribble, The Hike, is a horror novella that is sure to provide a fast, entertaining read with a few chills, even if it covers some familiar ground.
Dee would rather be spending her vacation at the beach, but she instead is accompanying her boyfriend, Jay, his best friend, Andy, and Andy’s girlfriend, Katy, on a hike into the desert to find the Hoodoos, beautiful rock structures that some say are calcified humans.
However, there is more to contend with than the treacherous countryside, and the group soon realise they are being hunted by something preternatural.
Written in present tense, The Hike nips along at such a fast pace that it reads more like a long short story or novelette than a novella. Dee is the main point of view character, and it is easy to empathise with her as she struggles to keep up with her more experienced companions. The intensity of the environment is well described, and the superior attitudes of Andy and his girlfriend make you cringe right along with Dee.
I enjoyed this novella. It is well written, I identified with the character of Dee, and I enjoyed the experience of the hike. This is where the novella shines, reminding me of ‘The Descent‘ in how well it describes the natural world as the scariest thing out there. Nature is beautiful, but brutal to the unprepared and arrogant. The threat of getting lost without water in a land far off the beaten track, without any cell service, provides a strong undercurrent of fear.
Unfortunately, much like ‘The Descent‘, the preternatural element isn’t as well developed as I would like, and trails in second to the terror of the natural world. The dénouement in particular fell short of what had preceded it, and I was disappointed because I felt that Dee and friends deserved more from their story. If the final third of the novella had stayed as strong as the first two thirds, this would be a solid 5 out of 5 dogs, but as it stands, I happily award it…
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