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The year is 1851 and pioneers in search of California gold are still afraid to travel on the same route as the tragic Donner party did years before. When the last wagon train to go into the Sierra Nevada mountains fails to arrive at their destination, Eve Smith, an 18-year old half-native girl with immense tracking skills is brought along with the search party, headed by an enigmatic former Texas Ranger, Jake McGraw.
What they find deep in the dangerous snow-covered terrain is a terrifying consequence of cannibalism, giving new meaning to the term “monster.” While the search party is slowly picked off, one by one, Eve must learn to trust Jake, who harbors more than a few secrets of his own, in order to survive and prevent the monstrosities from reaching civilization.
Donners of the Dead was good. I was not blown away by the awesomeness like with other Karina Halle’s books, but this one was very good too.
Why I liked it, well this is a historical novel (but hey you, history haters, don’t give up on this yet), with some supernatural elements thrown in (zombies), horror (you will be creeped out) and of course, some steamy romance.
Why I was particularly looking forward to this novel was because it was based on real events: Donner party was a group of real people who got stuck in Sierra Nevada in the 19th century and had to resort to cannibalism in order to survive. A history fan that I am, I found it fascinating.
The main reason why I didn’t fully enjoy this book is probably because I had high expectations. And the book didn’t fully live up to those. I’m a huge Karina Halle fan and I think this book is not her best one. This is a standalone, fast paced books, and I guess I missed Karina’s traditional way of slowly revealing things to us, making us love her characters that are always a bit on the flawed side. Characters that you’d usually hate, but Karina makes you care for them. (That is why I loved The Artists Trilogy and EIT.)
So yeah, that didn’t really happen here. I did like Eve, she’s quite a likeable character. A half Native girl, not really accepted in a society, not even her own family. She’s strong, but not in that aggressive sense; and very clever, with survival instincts.
Jake, main male hero, on the other side, I did not find all that appealing. Sorry to say, but I don’t see attraction there. He’s your typical alpha male and let’s just say he’s not my type. I found him annoying and chauvinistic.
So, I guess the main reason why this didn’t quite work for me is the romance part. Whereas I found the bits about cannibalism and the whole zombie thing fantastic, all the more because it was based on real facts, and it really adds the credibility. Halle works her magic once again to spook you out big time.
*ARC received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*