There is an author’s note at the beginning of this book which explains what the book is about, but even though I read it I apparently didn’t really pay attention to what it said. Then I get a few chapters in and realized there are zombies in the story. Now I don’t usually go for zombie type stories and I almost decided to stop reading it. Then I thought, “Well, I’m really enjoying the story and there’s a lot of elements that don’t involve the zombies.” So I decided to keep reading and I’m so glad I did. Karina Halle tells a wonderful story.
The backdrop of this story is the ill-fated Donner party that was trapped over the winter in the Sierra Nevadas. The narrative centers on a teenage Eve, who is living with her aunt, uncle, mother and cousin, after the death of her father. Her mother has not spoken since her husband’s death. Eve is the daughter of a white mother and an Indian father, and her uncle hates her for it. He relegates her to the barn and treats her not as a niece but, at best as a ranch worker, and at worst as a burden on his life. Eve’s father was a well-known tracker and guide, and Eve learned many of his skills before he died. When a group of men ride into the town needing a guide they are told that Eve is the best person in the area. Their story is that the uncle of one of the men went into the Sierra Nevadas as part of a group searching for what happened to the Donner party, but he never returned, and now they want to find him. But is there another motive?
Eve’s uncle agrees to let her go, he sees nothing but dollar signs, but her aunt insists that she be accompanied by a fellow ranch-hand, Avery, and another local girl, Donna, to function as chaperone. The group sets off into the mountains. On the first day they encounter a couple of Indians who try to warn them of danger in the mountains, but since they don’t speak English the men disregard the warning. Not too long after that they have their first encounter with the strange creatures that live there. One of the men in the group, Jake, seems to take an instant dislike to Eve, and she to him. But will their opinions of each other change as they continue to encounter the dangerous creatures?
As I said earlier, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The story line was clever and original, and the author’s style made for an easy but exciting read. The characters, especially Eve, Jake, Avery, and Donna, were well thought out and well written. The author pulled me into the drama right away and kept me there until the last page. Some of the zombie scenes were graphic in nature, but there was so much more to the story than just blood and gore that it didn’t feel overwhelming. I would love to see more stories with these characters. I would highly recommend this book. It’s got adventure, twists and turns, and a bit of romance too. I think just about anybody could find something to like here.
Donners of the Dead from Amazon