Apparently history class in Canada is lacking. I had never heard about the Donner Party so I went into this book with an open mind. It's probably a good thing. Donners of the Dead is one spooky book.
Donners of the Dead is loosely based upon the events of the Donner Party who in the mid-19th century ventured through the Sierra Nevada mountains and were never seen again. Rumors about cannibalism persisted. This is a very different book for Ms. Halle, a historical romance western horror story. It starts off a little like the Experiment in Terror series with a creepy dream sequence that sets up the story for the reader.
This is a short novel and a fairly quick read. I did like the main character Eve Smith, half-breed Native Indian. Eve lives with her Uncle's family along with her mute mother. It's hard to believe the amount of racism Eve endures, even from her own family. Eve is an accomplished tracker and when some strangers arrive waving large amounts of cash, Eve's uncle allows her to accompany the strangers into the mountains. Eve, along with chaperone Donna and Avery the farmhand join the men for a long and arduous trek into the mountains. It's a difficult trip, made worse by the change in weather and elevation. The men are incredibly racist, threatening Eve. One of the men takes an interest in Eve. At first, he is repulsed by her Indian heritage, however he grows very attached and protective of her as the story progresses. He begins to call her "Pine Nut" which I suppose was a bit of an endearment, though it was a little annoying after a while.
Jake and Eve hit it off and their attraction is intense. I guess being chased around the wilderness by scary hungry sharp toothed blue eyed zombie creatures will do that. Nothing like sex on the run.
Speaking of monsters, there really were two kinds in this book. First, the members of the search party were some very shady characters. Then, the monsters on the mountain - think land shark zombies. Truly scary. Fans of Karina Halle should enjoy this short novel.
"I'm not a savage"
He smiled handsomely and with a shake of his head said, "No, you aren't. And you're not a lady either. I reckon you just might be perfect."
Thanks to Xpresso Tours for a review copy of this book.
Check out Badass Book Review's interview with author Karina Halle.