Customer Reviews for

So Cold the River

Average Rating 3.5
( 89 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(30)

4 Star

(23)

3 Star

(19)

2 Star

(10)

1 Star

(7)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

Don't drink the water!

Not exactly sure how I would classify this book. The major bookstores seem to be shoehorning this into the horror realm. It doesn't read like the typical horror story to me, although there is evil. And while it is a thrilling story, it's not exactly what you would call ...
Not exactly sure how I would classify this book. The major bookstores seem to be shoehorning this into the horror realm. It doesn't read like the typical horror story to me, although there is evil. And while it is a thrilling story, it's not exactly what you would call a thriller. Not fantasy, as while there's a magical element to it, there are no wizards or werewolves or unicorns to be found. Think I'm going to go with the broad generalization of speculative fiction. While I understand why they chose horror, I think it's a mistake as readers who would love this book may never see it if they don't normally read horror.

This was a really engaging story! The main character is Eric Shaw, a former hotshot filmmaker who is now producing video montages for weddings and funerals. We gradually learn how he wound up so far from Hollywood and estranged from his wife, as he begins work on a documentary for his latest client. Eric runs into roadblocks almost immediately, as it seems that the Campbell Bradford who once ruled over the town is not Alyssa's father-in-law. Could there be two Campbell Bradfords? From the same town? Doesn't seem likely, but things just get stranger from there.

With the help of Kellen Cage, a student working on his doctorate thesis, and Anne McKinney, an older woman who remembers the town as it once was, Eric tries to solve the mystery of Campbell Bradford and his strange antique bottle of Pluto Mineral Water. Why is the bottle so cold, even after sitting in a warm room? Does it really have the power to cause visions? Let's just say that this story gives a whole new twist to the advice: don't drink the water!

Gave this one a 4/5 rating as I really enjoyed it. The writing is excellent, and Koryta masterfully weaves the horror, mystery, and thriller aspects of the story together into an exciting and surprising conclusion! Have to say that while I predicted how the story would end, I was happy to be proved wrong. I thought it was original and clever and definitely worth reading!

posted by alexia561 on June 4, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

Very reminiscent of Stephen King's "The Shining"

So Cold the River's book jacket uses words such as "irresistible suspense" and "spellbinding". I wouldn't go that far, but if you are looking for an original, well-written tale very reminiscent of Stephen King's The Shining, then this book might be for you.

Eric Shaw...
So Cold the River's book jacket uses words such as "irresistible suspense" and "spellbinding". I wouldn't go that far, but if you are looking for an original, well-written tale very reminiscent of Stephen King's The Shining, then this book might be for you.

Eric Shaw is a down-on-his-luck, back-from-LA, Chicago filmmaker who is now "reduced" to designing "video life portraits" at funerals to make ends meet. To make matters worse, he is also on his way to divorce from his wife, Claire. When he is approached by Alyssa Bradford to spend a few weeks in French Lick and West Baden to document her dying father-in-law, Campbell's, mysterious past, he can't say no. Both are small towns with deep histories in their extraordinary hotels (I told you to expect The Shining). Shaw meets many people along the way who are willing to help him, but becomes addicted to the towns' water. The water shows him visions of Campbell's life in the early 1900s. The story takes a sinister turn when Eric's visions become stronger.

The story begins strong with a penchant for pageturning. Midway through, it loses some steam, but everything is nicely pulled together in the end. I did not find it an "icy, terrifying winner", as Dennis Lehane's blurb on the cover suggests, but if you are looking for some mindless entertainment, you can find it here.

MY RATING - 3/5

To see my rating scale and other reviews, please check out my blog:
http://www.1776books.blogspot.com.

posted by kcemt on May 29, 2010

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  • Posted June 4, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Don't drink the water!

    Not exactly sure how I would classify this book. The major bookstores seem to be shoehorning this into the horror realm. It doesn't read like the typical horror story to me, although there is evil. And while it is a thrilling story, it's not exactly what you would call a thriller. Not fantasy, as while there's a magical element to it, there are no wizards or werewolves or unicorns to be found. Think I'm going to go with the broad generalization of speculative fiction. While I understand why they chose horror, I think it's a mistake as readers who would love this book may never see it if they don't normally read horror.

    This was a really engaging story! The main character is Eric Shaw, a former hotshot filmmaker who is now producing video montages for weddings and funerals. We gradually learn how he wound up so far from Hollywood and estranged from his wife, as he begins work on a documentary for his latest client. Eric runs into roadblocks almost immediately, as it seems that the Campbell Bradford who once ruled over the town is not Alyssa's father-in-law. Could there be two Campbell Bradfords? From the same town? Doesn't seem likely, but things just get stranger from there.

    With the help of Kellen Cage, a student working on his doctorate thesis, and Anne McKinney, an older woman who remembers the town as it once was, Eric tries to solve the mystery of Campbell Bradford and his strange antique bottle of Pluto Mineral Water. Why is the bottle so cold, even after sitting in a warm room? Does it really have the power to cause visions? Let's just say that this story gives a whole new twist to the advice: don't drink the water!

    Gave this one a 4/5 rating as I really enjoyed it. The writing is excellent, and Koryta masterfully weaves the horror, mystery, and thriller aspects of the story together into an exciting and surprising conclusion! Have to say that while I predicted how the story would end, I was happy to be proved wrong. I thought it was original and clever and definitely worth reading!

    9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 29, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    So Cold The River

    Eric Shaw, a dejected Hollywood cameraman, is back at home in Chicago, sans wife and now makes vignettes for memorial services. Then he gets the change to do a documentary of the one Campbell Bradford, a 95-year-old billionaire on his death bed who ran away from his home town when he was a kid.

    Eric goes to the town and learns of its glorious past and tangles with a few locals. He also starts having these visions that become more and more disturbing to him, yet he wants to learn the truth of what it all means.

    Michael Koryta takes a real place with a real history and blends in a horrifying and mysterious ghost story that just thrilled me to the bone. I loved how he used the history of this hotel, it'd demise and resurrection and incorporated into his novel. It makes me want to visit.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 17, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Good Spooky Tale

    Eric Shaw is an aspiring film maker in Chicago who makes memorial films for funerals. After one such effort he is approached by a woman who wants him to make a memorial to her father-in-law who is in a coma. Very little is known about her father-in-law's life and she wants Eric to go to the town in Indiana where he lived before Chicago. She gives Eric an old bottle of mineral water (called Pluto Water) that the old man had brought with him from Indiana in his youth.

    Eric insists that he first visit her father-in-law (Campbell Bradford) in the hospital to get a sense of the man and she reluctantly agrees. When Eric, sees her father-in-law he starts to film him. Each time Eric looks at him through the camera lens, he appears to wake up and talk to Eric. When he looks at him away from the camera, he appears to still be in the coma. Eric shows him the bottle of Pluto water and he gets scared.

    Eric goes to the town in Indiana and there is a big hotel in the middle of nowhere in the town. The hotel is famous for its mineral springs, the same springs that supposedly are in the bottle of Pluto Water. Of course Eric is tempted to drink the bottle and when he does he becomes incredibly ill after which he starts seeing visions, apparently from the past.

    The book references the hotel as something out of "The Shining" and the book seems to morph into another version of that very movie. There is another Campbell Bradford that lived in the town in the 1920's and apparently Eric is seeing visions of that Campbell. There is one living decendent of that Campbell Bradford (Josiah) who also seems to be having visions of Campbell.

    Eric meets another man (Kellen) who is working on a biographical story of an African American that ran a small hotel at the same time as Campbell Bradford was in town in the 1920's. The two become friends and try to share information. The two have a couple of run-ins with Josiah who turns out to be very "nasty" and not interested in sharing any info on his great grandfather.

    Meanwhile Eric is addicted to the bottle of Pluto Water and the bottle does weird things such as stay cold all the time. The more he drinks, the more lifelike his visions of the past.

    The book was a fairly good read but the last third of the book leaves a lot to be desired and I would have rated the book a full five stars if the end of the book had been better.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2010

    Very reminiscent of Stephen King's "The Shining"

    So Cold the River's book jacket uses words such as "irresistible suspense" and "spellbinding". I wouldn't go that far, but if you are looking for an original, well-written tale very reminiscent of Stephen King's The Shining, then this book might be for you.

    Eric Shaw is a down-on-his-luck, back-from-LA, Chicago filmmaker who is now "reduced" to designing "video life portraits" at funerals to make ends meet. To make matters worse, he is also on his way to divorce from his wife, Claire. When he is approached by Alyssa Bradford to spend a few weeks in French Lick and West Baden to document her dying father-in-law, Campbell's, mysterious past, he can't say no. Both are small towns with deep histories in their extraordinary hotels (I told you to expect The Shining). Shaw meets many people along the way who are willing to help him, but becomes addicted to the towns' water. The water shows him visions of Campbell's life in the early 1900s. The story takes a sinister turn when Eric's visions become stronger.

    The story begins strong with a penchant for pageturning. Midway through, it loses some steam, but everything is nicely pulled together in the end. I did not find it an "icy, terrifying winner", as Dennis Lehane's blurb on the cover suggests, but if you are looking for some mindless entertainment, you can find it here.

    MY RATING - 3/5

    To see my rating scale and other reviews, please check out my blog:
    http://www.1776books.blogspot.com.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2012

    Great!

    A bit hard to follow, but totally worth it. Especially if you have visited West Baden and Frenck Lick, Indiana.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 4, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Supernatural happenings are about to awaken the mystery of the Bradford family history and a time long forgotten.

    It started with a beautiful woman and a challenge. As a gift for her husband, Alyssa Bradford approaches Eric Shaw to make a documentary about her father-in-law, Campbell Bradford, a 95-year-old billionaire whose past is wrapped in mystery. Eric grabs the job even though there are few clues to the man's past--just the name of his hometown and an antique water bottle he's kept his entire life.

    In Bradford's hometown, Eric discovers an extraordinary history--a glorious domed hotel where movie stars, presidents, athletes, and mobsters once mingled, and hot springs whose miraculous mineral water cured everything from insomnia to malaria. Neglected for years, the resort has been restored to its former grandeur just in time for Eric's stay.

    Just hours after his arrival, Eric experiences a frighteningly vivid vision. As the days pass, the frequency and intensity of his hallucinations increase and draw Eric deeper into the town's dark history. He discovers that something besides the hotel has been restored--a long-forgotten evil that will stop at nothing to regain its lost glory. Brilliantly imagined and terrifyingly real, So Cold the River is a tale of irresistible suspense with a racing, unstoppable current.

    My Review:

    In So Cold The River by Michael Koryta, we find ourselves completely lost in the history of the Bradford family and it's ties to the famed West Baden Resort Hotel in Indiana. It's been completely restored to its former glory but something sinister lies within the mineral springs that are being pumped into the hotel from an underground river.

    It's this same water that Eric finds himself in possession of when Alyssa Bradford hires him to complete a documentary on her family. She hands him a green glass bottle that despite where you place it, it remains freezing cold to the touch even in direct sunlight. Something beckons to Eric from within the bottle of water, one sip couldn't hurt could it? You'll soon find out upon journeying into this wonderful fiction of mystery and suspense.

    I received this book compliments of Hachette Book Groups and found this to be worthy of the greats like Stephen King and Ted Dekker. It held my attention for 503 pages of gut wrenching, spine tingling suspense and drama. It reminded me of The Shining but without all the gore, just the suspense and intrigue keeping you on the edge of your seat literally. I would rate this book a 10 out of 10. Michael Koryta is now one of my all time favorite authors.

    This book is available in paperback, hard cover, audio books, ebook and large print formats. For more information on this book, the author and where to get your copy, click on the link below:

    http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/books_9780316053631.htm

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2012

    My favorite thriller in years.

    Michael Koryta's recent novels read like a slightly more literary Stephen King or Michael Crichton. The setting in West Baden/French Lick, Indiana is beautifully depicted and Kotyta's eerie story really brings it to life. I can't wait to read his other novels.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 14, 2012

    Will keep you on the edge of your seat!

    Excellent book, superbly written, full of believable (and unbelievable!!)characters, set in the midst of the wonderful French Lick Resort in southern Indiana. Am ordering Koryta's other two books right now.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2010

    A KNOCK-OUT!!!

    THIS STORY PULLS AND TUGS AND KEEPS YOU ON EDGE. I AM NOT SURE WHAT GENRE I WOULD PUT THIS UNDER, HORROR/THRILLER? BUT SIMPLY PUT, IT IS A MUST READ!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 21, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    This book was different than any book that I have ever read befo

    This book was different than any book that I have ever read before. I couldn't put it down. I had to know what was in the water. As the story progressed, I wasn't sure if it was actually happening or a delusion of Eric Shaw. Why was Kellen Cage so eager to help him? Why was his wife so eager to drop everything to come to his rescue? You'll just have to read the book and find out.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 31, 2013

    Slow pace but very worth the reading time

    A very facinating story. Hard to categorize this novel though. It was kind of a ghost story but in a very different way than I've ever experienced. Which I'm sure doesn't help any in expressing the tone of this book. You'll know what I mean if you choose it. I was entranced in this eerie situation that he created. If I could give any critique it would be that the book is probably longer than it really needed to be. I've never read from this author before but his other stories sound intriguing. I would consider reading another of his books in the future.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2013

    Michael Koryta certainly has a talent for picking a subject and

    Michael Koryta certainly has a talent for picking a subject and turning it into a great story. I could not put the book down and would now like to go to Indiana and check out the hotels and the area he wrote about.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2013

    So cold the river

    I thought that I would never find an Author that I liked as well as I have over the years as Stephen King......but after reading So Cold The River..I have fallen in love again...with one that is indeed his equal...I have also read Cypress House...and indeed ....I have fallen deeply...and I thank you

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2013

    AWESOME BOOK & MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE!!!

    This book was extremely hard to put down and a fantastic read from beginning to end. Can't wait to read the rest of his books!!!! Outstanding!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2013

    Loved it!

    An odd mix of thriller history and ghosts. I abdolutely enjoyed this read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2012

    Highly Recommended

    Loved this book! I would recommend this book. It reads like a Stephen King novel.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2012

    The artt Athe artist

    Ry








    Mmovieep

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2012

    A fun read prior to visiting West Baden

    I bought the book because we were going to visit the area. I don't read horror but love mysteries. I found this to be an enjoyable page-turner - and I learned more about the history of the area prior to our trip.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2012

    Awesome

    Awesome

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2012

    Blah.

    I only read halfway through this book. Im a busy person so when i read a book, i want it to be a good one. This book isnt necessarily bad, it just bored me. The book uses foreshadowing at the end of several chapters such as "A storm is coming." Or "A storm was on the horizon and the wind was starting to blow." Well, half way through the book you are still waiting on things to happen. Meanwhile, the main character farts around town, gets in a bar fight, interviews an old woman, thinks about his ex wife, blah blah blah.
    To the books credit, i only read half of it. Maybe it gets better. I'll never know.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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