THIN AIR Grim Peaks
released OUT NOW! 232 pages | Hardback/ebook/ audiobook Author Michelle Paver Publisher Orion Books
This is a slim book, and a simple story, but it has all the elegance of a classic ghost story.
It’s 1935 and, fleeing a broken engagement, Dr Stephen Pearce joins his brother’s expedition to the peak of Kangchenjunga (second highest mountain of the Himalayas), following the route of a failed Edwardian expedition that had a tragic end.
Paver’s clearly done her research, and nothing seems anachronistic or jarring. From the equipment to the food to the attitude some of the party display towards their sherpas and bearers, it all feels authentic.
Likewise the strained relationship between Stephen and his brother, Kits, rings true. You’re never sure whether Stephen is ill with altitude sickness, unbalanced by the change in his personal life and reminders of the earlier tragedy, or whether he’s genuinely perceiving something no one else can, while trying to climb one of the world’s deadliest peaks. Kangchenjunga is a hostile environment, and a natural disaster feels as imminent as a supernatural threat.
It’s a compelling read, building up slowly and effectively, with just one rather sad flaw: when the time comes to deliver a really good scare, it’s not nearly frightening enough. Miriam McDonald
Aleister Crowley led a failed attempt to climb Kangchenjunga in 1905. It was finally done in 1955.