Reviewed by Stephanie Ellis
In 1959, a party of ten set out on a trek through the Northern Ural Mountains. After one withdrew due to illness, the other nine continued on in order to gain their Category III hiking certificate. Their route took them to Kholat Syakhl, the Mountain of the Dead. None of them returned. Files relating to the incident remained classified for years and even now not everything has been released to the public. The state also subsequently restricted access to the Dyatlov Pass area for three years after the incident.
This tale, based on true events, weaves a narrative between the recreation of events at that time and the story of a writer following in their footsteps to discover the truth behind the tragedy. As the story inevitably propels the members of the party to their end, told in the form of a countdown, you are invited to share the dreams and hopes of some of the group, ideas of a future and love and family. Together with the inclusion of expedition photos showing young faces full of laughter and promise, the story is brought to life and the poignancy of what is to come heightened.
In addition, the writer chasing their ghosts has his own demons to confront and this trip is his attempt at closure over a personal loss. That he insists on seeing the trek through to the bitter end, despite appalling conditions, has catastrophic consequences.
Here communism, the gulags, the folk belief of the Mansi tribesmen who live in that area and supernatural elements combine to give real authority to a powerful story
Full of horrifying suspense and well-researched, the author guides the reader to a shockingly believable conclusion. A page-turner in the true sense of the word and a thoroughly entertaining read. I will definitely be looking out for other books by this author.
Stephanie Ellis can be found at https://stephellis.weebly.com and on twitter @el_Stevie.
When Stephanie is not writing reviews, she is co-editor at The Infernal Clock (http://infernalclock.blogspot.co.uk/) a fledgling publishing venture and is also co-editor at The Horror Tree’s Trembling With Fear online magazine (https://horrortree.com/category/trembling-with-fear/) where they’re always open for flash submissions. She has also had short stories and a novella published in a variety of horror anthologies and magazines.