Booklist Reviews 2018 February #1
Katsu, author of the Taker trilogy, transports readers to the American West in 1846 to explore the plight of the Donner party, with a supernatural explanation at the heart of its ill-fated quest. When the party sets out for California in the summer of 1846, it's over 90 strong and excited about a newly discovered passage. There's plenty of interpersonal drama among the group. Hearty Charles Stanton is seduced by the bewitching Tamsen Donner, whose husband, George, begins as leader of the group before being supplanted by unpopular businessman James Reed, who is having a secret tryst with a surly teamster. But when a young boy disappears, and his body is discovered days later, almost wholly stripped down to the bone, the group begins to fear that something sinister is awaiting them on the trail. Their terror intensifies as they press on, and members of the party start to fall prey to a searing hunger that makes them crave human flesh. A suspenseful and imaginative take on a famous tragedy. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.
LJ Reviews 2018 January #1
Katsu (The Taker; The Descent) presents a wildly different take on the historical tragedy of the Donner Party. It's June 1846, and the travelers make their way west in a wagon train, battling harsh conditions on the road. Charles Stanton, an able man but with many secrets, is determined to put the past behind him, but is almost helplessly attracted to George Donner's wife, Tamsen. She is equally fixated on Stanton, but for her, he's merely a distraction from an unhappiness she can't escape. When the train led by Donner and James Reed runs into trouble, Tamsen becomes a target of hatred among their fellow travelers owing to her mystical beliefs. Almost immediately, a strange illness falls on the party, turning people violent and animal-like in their craving for human flesh. The Donners and others realize that something of evil nature is preying on them, and that soon enough, it will be every man, woman, and child for themselves. VERDICT For fans of historical fiction and the supernatural, Katsu's goosebumpy and spooky plot makes for an original and surprising read. [See Prepub Alert, 9/25/17.]—Adriana Delgado, Palm Beach Cty. Lib., Loxahatchee, FL
Copyright 2017 Library Journal.
PW Reviews 2018 January #1
Katsu (The Taker) injects the supernatural into this brilliant retelling of the ill-fated Donner Party. In the prologue, set in April 1847, a team of rescuers sets out to find the last survivor of the expedition, Lewis Keseberg, but they locate only his abandoned cabin. "What looked like a human vertebra, cleaned of skin" and a "scattering of teeth" lie outside in the snow. Flash back to June 1846. George Donner is leading a wagon train to California. Those headed west often leave letters under rocks in the hope that an eastbound traveler will retrieve them and take them to the nearest post office. In one place, one of Donner's teenage daughters finds hundreds of such letters, all with the ominous message: "Turn back or you will die." Then a young boy disappears and is later found savagely mutilated, as if by an animal. The members of the party come to suspect that shape-changers are responsible for the carnage, and they encounter increasing challenges to their survival. Fans of Dan Simmons's The Terror will find familiar and welcome chills. Author tour. Agent: Richard Pine, Inkwell Management. (Mar.)
Copyright 2017 Publishers Weekly.