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 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.
Author: Blake Crouch
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Release Date: 1/09/2015
My chosen format: Kindle
My rating of Abandon: 4 out of 5
I absolutely love the cover work for Abandon. The greenish glow of the snow-covered mountains, the old-fashioned houses/shacks. It just gives off a very eerie feel. Everything from the subject matter to the colour scheme just screams class to me. The blurb is as exciting and intriguing as any I have ever read. It was this that drew me in and had me hooked. Who can resist the mystery of an entire town just vanishing into thin air?
For me, I was slightly let down on two fronts by Abandon. I don’t like to start off what will be a very positive review (it will, honest) with a negative. But, I just feel it has to be done in this case. This is not something I class as a spoiler, simply because if you are expecting it to be something it is not, you may wish to avoid reading the book. At the time of writing this review, Abandon is number 2 in Horror on Amazon. A piece of text I read on the Bookbub newsletter (I heard about this title through Bookbub) made note of the fact that a pair of paranormal investigators were brought in with the team to head up to Abandon to solve the mystery. Those two points (horror plus ghost hunters) heavily lead me to believe that I would be reading a horror story with a supernatural element. Sadly, what I had in my hands was neither a horror nor a supernatural piece. It is a thriller/suspense novel, an incredibly good thriller/suspense novel, but not exactly the horror I had hoped for and felt I was promised.
Once I had gotten over my disappointment of not having a ghost book to read, I really enjoyed Abandon. Blake’s writing is incredibly exciting and fast-paced. There quite simply isn’t a chapter that goes by (and there are a lot of chapters, all of them fairly short) where something doesn’t happen that has you wanting to keep reading.
Abandon is a tale two time periods. Every five or six chapters the focus shifts from 2009 to 1893 and you go from following Abby and Lawrence’s story to following that of the missing residents of Abandon on Christmas Day. Being a lover of historical fiction, this excited me. I do feel, though, that even if you dislike historical fiction, you would still enjoy these pieces as they are so well-written and character driven. Even though you know the people of Abandon vanish and that, seeing as how the book is set for a good period in 2009 none of those characters could possibly be alive, you still find yourself pulling for them. I couldn’t help but feel bitterly sad at one point for one of the characters. Nor could I stop myself feeling rage towards other characters for their evil actions, despite none of it really mattering as, one-hundred and sixteen years later, everyone will be bones anyway. If anything, I think I found myself deeply attached to the people of the past far more so than the ones of the present, and I applaud Blake Crouch for making me feel this way.
A minor negative for me would be that I just didn’t quite buy into some of the characters in the present. Only one or two, mind you, but whether it was the way they spoke, or the way they acted or just how my preconceived notion of how a person in their field/line of work/position etc … should act differed from how Crouch’s characters acted I simply don’t know. But a couple just stuck out as being something I was uninterested in.
Another minor negative would be the ending for me. Well, not all of it. I’d say in-between a third and half of it. In a way everything was ended really well, but in another way I found certain aspects unsatisfactory to my sense of how I expected them to go. That is an unfair thing to class as a negative, I know. As an author myself, I know how frustrating it is when the reader thinks they know better than you. It isn’t even a big thing that makes me feel sour on the end, just tiny little things I just wished had happened differently. So please don’t read this and think ‘urgh, not gonna bother if the ending isn’t six stars out of five’. My response to that would be ‘don’t be stupid. Everyone’s opinion is different. You will probably read it, love the ending (which was poignant in a certain way) and think me the biggest fool in the blogosphere.’
The overall feelings I am taking away from Abandon are that I was pleasantly surprised by how awesome the book turned out to be after I realised it wasn’t about ghosts, and that I shall be hunting down more of Blake Crouch’s books in the future. He is one of the more exciting thriller/suspense writers that I have read over the years and I think it would be a sin to stop at one book. Especially seeing as how so many of the covers looks so neat … who says you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover?