Review: The Hunger by Alma Katsu


Release date: March 6, 2018

Publisher: Putnam

Genre: Historical Fiction


Evil is invisible, and it is everywhere.

Tamsen Donner must be a witch. 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 pioneers to the brink of madness. They cannot escape the feeling that someone–or something–is stalking them. Whether it was a curse from the beautiful Tamsen, the choice to follow a disastrous experimental route West, or just plain bad luck–the 90 men, women, and children of the Donner Party are at the brink of one of the deadliest and most disastrous western adventures in American history.

While the ill-fated group struggles to survive in the treacherous mountain conditions–searing heat that turns the sand into bubbling stew; snows that freeze the oxen where they stand–evil begins to grow around them, and within them. As members of the party begin to disappear, they must ask themselves “What if there is something waiting in the mountains? Something disturbing and diseased…and very hungry?”


I wasn’t familiar with the Donner Party but I liked the idea of a historical reimagining that blended fact and fiction with a supernatural twist and when I read a bit about the real life Donner Party I was both horrified and fascinated. That basically sums up my emotional state while read The Hunger I was creeped out one minute and totally engaged the next, I really enjoyed this one.

This is divided into sections by month and follows the Donner Party as they embark on a treacherous journey battling the elements and also the unknown. You hear from various people including Tamsen, George Donner’s wife who terrifies the others as they think her remedies and tonics must be witchcraft, Stanton a man with a dark past and a mysterious aura and Elitha a young woman who hears voices, but is she crazy or are they real? It was so interesting to see the same events through several eyes and get various interpretations of what the group was experiencing, things are intensely trying and seeing how they dealt with the trials and tribulations was endlessly interesting.

This was hauntingly atmospheric, you see the Donner Party deal with extreme heat and the bitter cold and throughout it all there is a stark desperation that is palpable. Their fear, panic and the bleak, unrelenting climate coupled with a supernatural aspect made for a chilling read.

The Hunger in three words: Creepy, Atmospheric and Brutal.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to Emily at Glasstown Entertainment for my review copy.

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