I knew from the first page that I was going to love this historical thriller with a supernatural twist set in the Rocky Mountains, and I was not disappointed. Depleted rations, bitter quarrels, and the mysterious death of a little boy have driven the Donner party—yes, that Donner party—to the brink of madness. Stephen King called The Hunger “Deeply, deeply disturbing, hard to put down, not recommended reading after dark,” and I completely agree!
Two sisters, ages eight and eleven, go missing from a beach on the Kamchatka Peninsula in northeastern Russia. I would have read this novel for the descriptions of the rugged beauty of the landscape alone—open expanses of tundra, soaring volcanoes, dense forests, and the glassy seas that border Japan and Alaska. Add in a spellbinding story, and this is a book that’s impossible to put down.
When best friends Wynn and Jack decide to canoe the Maskwa River in northern Canada, they anticipate long days of paddling and picking blueberries, reading paperbacks by the light of their campfire and gazing at the stars. A wildfire making its way toward them through the forest turns out to be only the beginning of their problems, and what was supposed to be a relaxing get-away quickly becomes a desperate story of wilderness survival.
The Last One
Twelve contestants in a TV reality show set off into the woods to face challenges that they know will test the limits of their endurance. But while they are out there, something terrible happens in the outside world. Cut off from society, the contestants know nothing of it. When one of them stumbles across the devastation, she naturally assumes that this is part of the game. A mind-bending, mind-blowing story that will stay with you long after you finish reading.
C. J. Box
All of the novels in Box’s Joe Pickett game warden series bring the Wyoming landscape to life in vivid detail, and his newest is no exception. A Wyoming native and an avid outdoorsman, Box has hunted, fished, hiked, ridden, and skied the land where his series is set, and it shows. This time, when the lone survivor of a grizzly’s rampage tells a bizarre story, Pickett suspects it wasn’t the bear that was responsible. Proving it won’t be easy. This 20th Joe Pickett novel may well be Box’s best yet.
The Wicked Sister
There’s something about Earth’s wild places that I find endlessly intriguing. Maybe it’s the extreme isolation. Or it could be the challenge of surviving in an environment that is by definition inhospitable. Whatever the reason, I’m obsessed with wilderness thrillers. Give me a treacherous mountain, a raging river, a face-off with wild animals, or an epic snowstorm as the characters run from (or lie in wait for) their human adversaries, and I am so there.
My newest psychological suspense, The Wicked Sister, pits two sisters against each other in a game of predator and prey that takes place at the family home: a luxurious log cabin surrounded by 4,000 acres of pristine wilderness in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
It’s an area I know well. During the 1970s, my husband and I homesteaded in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula with our infant daughter, living in a tent while we built our tiny cabin, carried water from a stream, and sampled wild foods. And while the worst of our adventures pale in comparison to the dramatic story events I write about in The Wicked Sister, I know from personal experience that the dangers of living in the wilderness are very real.
Below are five wilderness thrillers in which the natural world tests the characters’ courage and ingenuity to the limits. Lace up your hiking books, strap on your hunting knife, grab your survival gear and your backpack, and enjoy!