Think of your favorite thriller, and you can almost always bet one thing–it’s extremely plot-driven. Naturally, the action-packed events move the story along and make the reader hold their breath in anticipation, wondering what’s to come.
That’s where The Mountain Story differs: one of the best suspense novels of the year, it manages to keep readers at the edges of their seat through character-driven storytelling.
On his 18th birthday, Wolf Truly goes to the top of the mountain near Palm Springs with the intention of jumping off; instead, he meets three women from three generations of one family, and together the four of them spend five days trying to make their way down the mountain with no food and little water. (Thanks, Novelist.) The novel is packed with adventure–perilous hiking, vicious wildlife, life-threatening injuries–but it’s the characters themselves that make this novel worth the read.
Who pulls hardest on the heartstrings? Is it Nora, a recent widow embarking on a journey to say her final goodbye? Bridget, a woman struggling in a broken marriage? Or is it Vonn, who doesn’t know how to cope with life-altering news? It’s hard to say, but Wolf, simultaneously contemplating suicide and fighting for his life, connects with readers on a level rarely seen before.
The book deals with the implications of being lost, of trying to survive, but the characters soon realize that their day-to-day lives are just as treacherous as the mountain peaks above and canyons below.
Adding to the depth of this story, the novel is beautifully framed as a letter written by Wolf to his son. The first-person perspective makes it clear that at least Wolf himself survives, but at what cost? The Mountain Story proves that a surprise ending isn’t necessary for a suspense novel to be worth the read.
This is Canadian author Lori Lansens’ most recent book, inspired, according to her online bio, “by her respect and appreciation for the wild.” Which is more thrilling–the wild without or the wild within–is for readers to decide.
Thanks for reading. -Autumn