The River at Night by Erica Ferencik
The River at Night is a thriller novel telling the story of a group of friends who go on a white river rafting trip, only to come back broken and bruised from their confrontations with both their inner demons and the dangers of the forest. The friends all decide to go on a rafting trip, but an accident leaves them stranded in the middle of nowhere against the odds of nature, their past secrets, and the dangers of humanity as they must fight to survive. This book is filled with suspense and apprehension throughout, first as you wait for the danger (as foretold from the back cover) to occur, and then the resolution of their journey. The four friends must put past betrayals and events aside as they must confront the both the dangers of the forest and the danger the forest brings out in people. Beautifully written, the landscape itself was another character in the novel. Extremely fitting, this characterization emphasized the mystery, and the way the nature itself seems to work against the characters, pushing them to their extremes. Similar to this underestimation of nature, the character’s journey’s (and the memories the wilderness invokes) reminded me of the book, Wild by Cheryl Strayed. Nature is a force itself: both of danger and beauty.
Wini was the character I could see myself most in. She dislikes camping and is generally very cautious. At the same time, there were bits of myself reflected in the other three female characters: Pia’s frustration, Rachel’s realistic approach, and Sandra’s kind nature. While we receive a glimpse of each character’s personality, motivations for going, and inner demons, Wini’s perspective is focused upon the most. All of these characters are tested as their fears and self-doubt come to the surface. The disasters and challenges they must face together bring out both the best and worst of them.
I enjoyed how this book both broke stereotypes in the ‘villian’ character and the ending. The ending is one of loss, guilt, and acceptance. I cannot think of a more relevant summary than the old saying “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man” (Herclitus). Their experiences change them, force them to confront their comfort, and challenge them to change their lives. Each experience asks further questions and tests them in new ways. Wini’s ending was the most unique for her experience teaches her to appreciate being alive without the necessity of drastic change.
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed Wild, thrillers in general, and stories in which nature comes alive. This book is released January 10 and you can preorder it here and check out the author’s website here! Comment below if you have ever gone rafting, or want to!
Disclaimer: I received this book in exchange for an honest review from Netgalley.
Don’t forget to subscribe!