The River at Night
by Erica Ferencik
A high-stakes drama set against the harsh beauty of the Maine wilderness, charting the journey of four friends as they fight to survive the aftermath of a white water rafting accident, The River at Night is a nonstop and unforgettable thriller by a stunning new voice in fiction.
Winifred Allen needs a vacation.
Stifled by a soul-crushing job, devastated by the death of her beloved brother, and lonely after the end of a fifteen-year marriage, Wini is feeling vulnerable. So when her three best friends insist on a high-octane getaway for their annual girls’ trip, she signs on, despite her misgivings.
What starts out as an invigorating hiking and rafting excursion in the remote Allagash Wilderness soon becomes an all-too-real nightmare: A freak accident leaves the women stranded, separating them from their raft and everything they need to survive. When night descends, a fire on the mountainside lures them to a ramshackle camp that appears to be their lifeline. But as Wini and her friends grasp the true intent of their supposed saviors, long-buried secrets emerge and lifelong allegiances are put to the test. To survive, Wini must reach beyond the world she knows to harness an inner strength she never knew she possessed.
With intimately observed characters, visceral prose, and pacing as ruthless as the river itself, The River at Night is a dark exploration of creatures—both friend and foe—that you won’t soon forget.
I slept caged in a dream of violence with no narrative, like a scrap of old film with only a few frames still visible.
She tended to marry well – divorce even better – but never seemed to truly settle into domestic peace.
I wondered how the sky could feel so vast at times, so alive with the complex narrative of clouds and sun, moon and stars; at others, so nothing, so commonplace and unremarkable. Was it because of where we were, or because I so seldom looked up?
Full on darkness, and all its terrors. I suddenly understood cultures that believed in demons and chimeras, werewolves and Gollums. With no walls around us, no light or source of warmth, what besides the monstrous makes sense. Every sound was a beast.
The River At Night was enthralling, smartly written, and hypnotically descriptive. Lushly detailed with words that painted each vivid scene to involve every one of my five senses. I not only experienced a movie reel running in my head – I could hear, feel, taste, and smell each item mentioned. It was magic. Ms. Ferencik is a master wordsmith with an arsenal of beautiful terms and a robust vocabulary that flowed and danced into an intriguing and compelling story. The writing was stellar, witty, deftly crafted, and often poetic, and at other times it crackled and popped with clever ironic observations and insights rife with underlying humor. Written from a first person POV, I either inhabited or was close beside Wini from beginning to end. I was there paddling along in the raft with them and saw the forest through her eyes, felt the coldness leech into her bones, and sensed her fear as well as the sorrows and losses that gripped her heart. I was transported. I just wish I could have been expending the same amount of calories as well.