Fiction Ed’s Book Review: Thin Air


How do you choose your next book to read?

My choices come about three ways. One is when a cover (or title) catches my eye on the bookstore display.

The second is when it’s by a writer who I know and like.

The third is by recommendation. That might come from a review in the press, or by a friend saying, “You’ve got to read this book.”

I’ve just finished an excellent one that I came to by that last route.

Tracey on the fiction team is a voracious reader. And she reads all sorts. Of course, that includes a lot of fiction – crime fiction especially.  But a couple of months ago she couldn’t stop talking about a ghost story she was reading, Thin Air by Michelle Paver, better known as a children’s author.

She loaned it to me, and I put it on my bookshelf. I’d get around to it sometime.

What A Book

That time came last weekend. And what a book.

It’s set in 1935. Five Englishmen set out to climb Kangchenjunga, in the Himalayas. This mountain already has a forbidding reputation for taking lives.

The party includes the narrator, Stephen Pearce, a doctor and a late substitute for the team’s medic. His brother Kits is also on the team. They have what can best be described as an uneasy relationship.

All five men are very aware of the famous earlier attempt by another English party which ended in both tragedy and heroism in equal measure.

Only Stephen, though, seems more focussed on the tragedy than the heroism. Probably because he starts to have visions…

It’s a haunting story. Atmospheric and that best kind of ghost story: not stupidly scary, but spine-tingling.

It’s also a fascinating insight into the boys own adventure characters who were those heroes of old. When you think of the equipment that mountaineers have now. Then? Flannel shirts, wool trousers, stout boots, and sheepskin flying helmets. And they seem to treat it all as a jolly fun adventure.

But that’s before they learn the truth about the climber who was left behind…

Thin Air by Orion paperback 7.99

Shirley Blair

Fiction Ed Shirley’s been with the “Friend” since 2007 and calls it her dream job because she gets to read fiction all day every day. Hobbies? Well, that would be reading! She also enjoys writing fiction when she has time, long walks, travel, and watching Scandi thrillers on TV.

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