In 1935 young medic Stephen Pearce travels to India to join an expedition with his brother, Kits. The elite team of five will climb Kangchenjunga, the world's third highest mountain and one of mountaineering's biggest killers. No one has scaled it before, and they are, quite literally, following in the footsteps of one of the most famous mountain disasters of all time - the 1907 Lyell expedition. Five men lost their lives back then, overcome by the atrocious weather, misfortune and mountain sickness at such high altitudes. Lyell became a classic British hero when he published his memoir, Bloody, but Unbowed, which regaled his heroism in the face of extreme odds. It is this book that will guide this new group to get to the very top.
As the team prepare for the epic climb, Pearce's unease about the expedition deepens. The only other survivor of the 1907 expedition, Charles Tennant, warns him off. He hints of dark things ahead and tells Pearce that while five men lost their lives on the mountain, only four were laid to rest. But Pearce is determined to go ahead and complete something that he has dreamed of his entire life.
As they get higher and higher and the oxygen levels drop, he starts to see dark things out of the corners of his eyes. As macabre mementoes of the earlier climbers turn up on the trail, Stephen starts to suspect that Charles Lyell's account of the tragedy was perhaps not the full story....
©2016 Michelle Paver (P)2016 Orion Publishing Group Limited
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"A tragedy that can never be righted"
This is the story of two brothers who are taking part in an expedition to climb one of the lesser known Himalayan Mountains and following in the footsteps of an ill-fated expedition that took place twenty years earlier. The main protagonist is Stephen, an embittered man who has recently broken off his engagement because he felt he was becoming too much like his brother Kits. Whereas Stephen is intelligent and introspective, Kits is a natural and popular leader who nonetheless has the flaw of being snobbish and dismissing anybody who does not fit in with his class and his view about how things should be done. From the outset the Stephen is blighted with a sense of foreboding after meeting one of the survivors of the earlier expedition but intends to push on regardless in order to satisfy his sense of rivalry with his brother.
Michelle Paver takes us back to a time when men had been brutalised by the First World War and an imperialist world, but had learnt none of the lessons, instead desperately clinging onto the old order. Their casual racism and cruelty is shocking but even the privileged are trapped in a system of inheritance that only favours one beneficiary and destroys any possiblity of sibling love. The description of the journey through the jungle and finally the mountain is beautiful but also filled with an oppressive sense of discomfort at the alien environment encountered by the men. As the men ascend the mountain they become affected by the altitude and mountain sickness and it is here that Stephen gets the sense there is another presence accompanying them.
The slow reveal of what really happened during the previously expedition is perfectly timed and the poignancy of the tragedy is a visceral blow to the senses. This may be a ghost story but it also goes further by showing us that the we can all be tainted by the knowledge of evil even when we are not the direct protagonist.
The narration by Daniel Weyman is brilliant – a true master of his craft. The book is every bit as good as Dark Matter and I will be recommending this heartily to family and friends.
"perfect old-fashioned ghost story"
I absolutely loved Dark Matter and was thrilled to find a new ghost story for the start of the winter. I get through the dark days and nights by listening and reading ghost stories. Somehow just not the same if sun pouring through the windows and birds singing merrily. As I was finishing this the rain was lashing against the windows and the room was lit by soft lamplight and I was so glad to be in my warm, cosy room and not an ice cave.
Once again the author transported me to a cold, hostile place where something dreadful awaits. Totally enjoyed this story and hopefully the author will continue writing a ghost stories and I will certainly buy them. Thoroughly recommend it.
"Fantastic claustraphobic, disturbing, emotional"
Daniel Weyman was absolutely superb; at times morose, thoughtful, surprised, exhausted, annoyed, paranoid, terrified, wildly terrified, conflicted and accepting. I feel this narrator must have gone through the whole gamut of human emotion reading this book. He brought Stephen and the other characters to life. Loved this narration.
Another fantastic book from Michelle Paver; this icy tale of an ill-fated expedition paces consistently to it's climax through the increasingly paranoid first person narrative of the expedition's doctor, Stephen. Although very similar in premise and situation to Paver's other book, Dark Matter, which involves an ill-fated exploration of perilous icy terrains and an increasingly nervous and at times, unreliable, central character, Thin Air still has a lot to distinguish it from the former. The description of the mountain, the experiences of climbing and the creeping realisation that the higher up one goes, the greater the isolation and the greater the danger were extremely realistic. The author's research and own previous personal experience lends an unnerving reality to the story in spite of its supernatural elements. In addition to the dangers of mountaineering etc, this story also touches on other highly emotive topics including in-group/outgroup biases, class/caste systems and the complex nature of sibling relationships. Can you both wholly love and hate someone at the same time? Would this impact on your ability to help them in a life or death situation? The characters are so well drawn you really feel that they have been changed irrevocably forever by their experiences albeit to different extents and in different ways. All in all, this was a fantastic listen. I am sorry it ended and greatly look forward to future work from this author.
"Too similar to Dark Matter"
A little formulaic to be honest and not as frightening as Dark Matter which was deeply unsettling and atmospheric.
"Subtle and chilling"
Dark Matter by the same author. I don't mind when a subject I enjoy is revisited by someone who knows how to write it well. It shares many of the same flavours of Dark Matter, including being British to a fault, and I loved every word of it.
Subtle, chilling horror written by an author who has a brilliant voice for it. I recommend this and Dark Matter, by the same author, for those who love a good British ghost story.
"One of the best downloads this year!"
I have been waiting all year for Michelle's new book. I am a massive fan of Paver's ghost stories. Dark Matter was one of the great British ghost stories, and Thin Air is every bit its equal. And the bonus afterward by Michelle herself talking about the book is fascinating.
Another Winner, thank you, Michelle!
When's the next one out?
"Fantastic and capturing...a must listen 👍👍👍👍👍"
Not what I would usually choose....soooo glad I did! Heard a radio review with the author...and it interested me. 100% recommendation 👍😀
What a well written and truly spooky story. Loved it. Will be looking for more from this author. Narration was excellent too.
"Unsettling and very enjoyable"
Yes it's largely the same plot as dark matter but with a different setting, but I loved dark matter so this was very enjoyable. The last hour kept me up late and the writing was very descriptive. The extent of human endurance demanded by climbing the highest peaks on earth are fascinating, put a ghost story up there and it's a winner.
"Another brilliant ghost story !"
I absolutely loved Dark Matter, and Thin Air is equally as good. It is subtle, chilling, and you really do feel as if you are on that mountain. The narrator is excellent.
I can recommend this audiobook wholeheartedly !
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