Donors of the Dead by Karina Halle
Genres: Adult, Historical Fiction, Horror, Romance
Publication date: February 23, 2014
Format: eARC, 203 pages
How I got it: From the author
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
A note about this book: Donners of the Dead is set in 1851 – couples were often thrust into marriage together with short courtships, racism was widespread and not overly frowned upon, and women had little to no rights. What wouldn't fly in today's day and age was unfortunately the norm back then - it is worth keeping that in mind when reading this book.
Jake McGraw was unlike anyone I’d ever known. He was brash, rude, unapologetic and arrogant; chauvinistic, close-minded, and terribly stubborn. He was built like a tree, tall with a hard chest and wide shoulders and hands that looked like they could wrestle a bear. He was a cigar-chomping, scruffy-faced, beast of a man. I was pretty sure I hated him. And I know he hated me. But among the flesh-eating monsters in these snow-capped mountains, he was the only thing keeping me alive
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 could conceivably be called the first horror book I’ve ever read. (Unless we’re counting Fear Street, Christopher Pike and Nightmare Hall books back when I was a teenager.) It is the first real zombie book I’ve ever read. (No, I’m not counting Warm Bodies.) Holy. Crap. I am probably going to have nightmares for days, but the entire experience of reading this book will offset any lost sleep or nightmares. I was absolutely on edge from the start of the book. I gasped aloud several times. Everything was described in such a detail that it was like watching a really, really good (terrifying) movie. The entire concept of this plot was amazing and it was executed flawlessly.
The main characters, Eve and Jake, were both incredible. Eve was a kick-ass kind of lady, despite how sheltered she was before going on this journey. Jake. Yum. Jake was all man. Sexy, protective, a huge chip on his shoulder for a reason we didn’t learn until later in the book. Hello, ranger. Delicious. While neither their chemistry nor their attraction is what I would consider immediate, there was at the very least some interest on both their parts from the beginning. Their connection grew over time and in a completely believable way, under some horrific circumstances. This book isn’t all sex and zombies, but my goodness, there is some steam in these pages.
If you’ve read the blurb above, you’ll know all you need to know about the plot of this book. I’m being purposefully vague because I really don’t want to run the risk of spoiling anything for you. Because, seriously, I had no idea what was going to happen with this book until the end. It could have gone in so many different directions. There were twists and turns, total “WTF” moments and literal nail-biting. It’s so exquisitely creepy. If you like horror stories, you need to read this book.
Reading Karina Halle’s books is a total experience. She takes me inside a world I could never imagine in my wildest dreams (or nightmares, in this case) and does it in a way that makes me feel like I’m living it. Her characters are phenomenal. I chose to read and review this book because of how much I enjoyed her Artists Trilogy. I knew this was going to be a much different type of book, but the love of her writing was still there. When I have time, I fully intend to tackle her Experiment in Terror series. Potential nightmares be damned.
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.