I received this ebook from NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: On Christmas Day in 1893, every man, woman, and child in a remote gold-mining town disappeared, belongings forsaken, meals left to freeze in vacant cabins–and not a single bone was ever found.
One hundred sixteen years later, two backcountry guides are hired by a history professor and his journalist daughter to lead them to the abandoned abandoned mining town so they can learn what happened. Recently, a similar party had also attempted to explore the town and was never heard from again. Now the area is believed to be haunted. This crew is about to discover, twenty miles from civilization with a blizzard bearing down, that they are not alone, and the past is very much alive.
Let me begin by making a confession. I read this a few months ago and then somehow completely forgot to review it. I’m so embarrassed!
My friend Zoe (Sporadic Chronicles of a Beginner Blogger) at http://www.zuts.wordpress.com wrote an insightful review of this back on October 1st, and gave it a 7! You should definitely go over and check it out!
Anyway, after loving Blake Crouch’s Wayward Pines trilogy, I was really excited when I read the summary, and overall I was pleased with this book also.
The chapters alternate between the present day and 1893 and it’s obvious well before you reach the book’s midway point that its strengths lie in the past. The present day events which take place over a four day period are interesting, but I found myself impatiently skimming through them. Part of this was due to some issues I had with the characters. They were okay, but there just wasn’t anything outstanding or memorable about any of them. They all needed to be developed a little more to be successful in capturing a reader’s attention. The two main characters are Lawrence the history professor, who I took an immediate dislike to, and his daughter Abigail, the journalist. I liked her and found her dysfunctional relationship with her father interesting, but she lost me when she cracks her tailbone yet continues wading through hip-deep snow. I’m apologize if I’m over personalizing this, but I broke my tailbone years ago after falling down some stairs, and I can’t begin to describe how excruciating the pain was. And it’s not something that goes away immediately. More than twenty-years later I still feel twinges from it. There is just no way that Abigail could have continued, no matter how determined she was to escape from the woods. The group’s journey and eventually discovery of the ghost town is interesting though and there are quite a few mysteries raised involving them, including the question of whether the bad things that keep happening to them are related and if so, are they the result of the supernatural. So if I were rating the present day parts of the book I’d probably give it between 2 1/2-3 stars.
Thankfully though, there are those chapters set in 1893 that ever so slowly reveal what really happened to the inhabitants of Abandon. It’s obvious that Mr. Crouch did his research into what life was like in these small gold-mining towns. He perfectly captures the hard-scrabble life of the people and all that they endured. Ironically I was much more emotionally invested in these people who lived over a century ago than I was with Lawrence and Abigail and their crew.
The only other criticism I have is towards the length of the book. At over 500 pages long, I think it could have done with a little more editing. There were parts that dragged a bit and weren’t really necessary to the larger narrative. I honestly would have been thrilled with just the chapters detailing the rise and fall of Abandon being put together as a book.
Despite it’s flaws, I think Abandon once again shows that Blake Crouch is developing into a force to be reckoned with in the field of mystery and suspense. I will definitely be picking up his new book when it cones out next year.
And I do offer my apologies for this late post. I’ll try to make sure it doesn’t happen again.