• The River

  • A Novel
  • By: Peter Heller
  • Narrated by: Mark Deakins
  • Length: 7 hrs and 18 mins
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (1,705 ratings)

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The River  By  cover art

The River

By: Peter Heller
Narrated by: Mark Deakins
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Publisher's summary

A Nominee for the 2020 Edgar Allan Poe Awards

National Best Seller

"A fiery tour de force…. I could not put this book down. It truly was terrifying and unutterably beautiful." (Alison Borden, The Denver Post)

From the best-selling author of The Dog Stars, the story of two college students on a wilderness canoe trip - a gripping tale of a friendship tested by fire, white water, and violence.

Wynn and Jack have been best friends since freshman orientation, bonded by their shared love of mountains, books, and fishing. Wynn is a gentle giant, a Vermont kid never happier than when his feet are in the water. Jack is more rugged, raised on a ranch in Colorado where sleeping under the stars and cooking on a fire came as naturally to him as breathing.

When they decide to canoe the Maskwa River in Northern Canada, they anticipate long days of leisurely paddling and picking blueberries and nights of stargazing and reading paperback Westerns. But a wildfire making its way across the forest adds unexpected urgency to the journey.

When they hear a man and woman arguing on the fog-shrouded riverbank and decide to warn them about the fire, their search for the pair turns up nothing and no one. But: The next day, a man appears on the river, paddling alone. Is this the man they heard? And, if he is, where is the woman?

From this charged beginning, master storyteller Peter Heller unspools a headlong, heart-pounding story of desperate wilderness survival.

©2019 Peter Heller (P)2019 Random House Audio

Critic reviews

Edgar Allan Poe Award Nominee



"Utter joy... A suspenseful tale told with glorious drama and lyrical flair." —Denise Mina, The New York Times Book Review

"[A] poetic and unnerving wilderness thriller… Full of rushing life and profound consequences. Every move Jack and Wynn make along the river has the chance to kill them or those they’re trying to save, and the result is a novel that sweeps you away, each page filled with wonder and awe for a natural world we can quantify with science but can rarely predict with emotion." —Tod Goldberg, USA Today

"Engaging...satisfying... Terse and tight. Short, lyrical paragraphs are packed with action and keep the story moving along... Like a lot of backcountry missions, the most compelling parts of the story aren’t necessarily the rapids or the high-risk moves. Instead they’re the quiet moments where Wynn and Jack are coupling their rods together and wading slowly through vivid, tannic streams." —Heather Hansman, Outside Magazine