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.)
Praise for The Hunger
NPR's "100 Best Horror Novels"
PopSugar's "31 of the Best New Books You Should Read in March"
Vulture's "13 Great Horror Books Written by Women"
io9's "28 New Science Fiction and Fantasy Books Well Worth Checking Out"
PureWow's "20 Books We Can't Wait to Read in 2018"
NerdMuch's "20 Best New Sci-Fi/Fantasy Books"
SyFy Wire's "Out of This World Book Releases"
“Katsu shows an acute understanding of human nature.…[She] is at her best when she forces her readers to stare at the almost unimaginable meeting of ordinary people and extraordinary desperation, using her sharp, haunting language.”—USA Today
"A reimagining of the ill-fated Donner Party but with an eerie supernatural twist."—New York Post
"Combines meticulous historical research and a keen understanding of human nature with a monstrous original metaphor to reimagine the ill-fated Donner-Reed party as a haunted endeavor, doomed from its first mile."—Salon
“The Hunger is being described as ‘the Donner Party with a supernatural twist,’ and it sure delivers on the spooky premise.” —Bustle
"[The Hunger] is as rich in history as it is disturbing."—Vulture
"Much like Dan Simmons's The Terror, Alma Katsu's accomplished, engrossing novel weaves a cocoon of supernatural horror around historical tragedy....The atmosphere of doom becomes as thick as the snow that eventually halts the pioneers' progress. It's a beautifully intense read."—The Financial Times (UK)
“The Hunger by Alma Katsu takes the tragic tale of the Donner Party and infuses it with hints of witchcraft, vampirism, lycanthropy, cannibalism and zombiism in a tale that is fated to become the latest Donner Party-inspired horror movie.”—True West Magazine
“Katsu injects the supernatural into this brilliant retelling of the ill-fated Donner Party....Fans of Dan Simmons’s The Terror will find familiar and welcome chills.”—Publishers Weekly(starred review)
“For fans of historical fiction and the supernatural, Katsu’s goosebumpy and spooky plot makes for an original and surprising read.”—Library Journal(starred review)
“A suspenseful and imaginative take on a famous tragedy.”—Booklist
“An inventive reimagining...Westward migration, murder, sensation: the story of the Donner Party has all this....Katsu creates a riveting drama of power struggles and shifting alliances....The tensions [she] creates are thrilling.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Grips readers from the opening paragraphs and doesn’t let go. Full of richly drawn and fascinatingly flawed characters, this is a story that is respectful of the history it relates, but doesn’t shy away from the sins, mistakes and bigotry of the past, to impressive effect.”—RT Book Reviews
“The isolation is anxiety-inducing and the tension is perfect....Well-written and gripping with a strong conclusion, The Hunger is an inventive take on an already morbidly fascinating historical event. Recommended.”—Historical Novel Society
"Escalating terror and excitement, leading to an ending that's beyond unsettling... Katsu does a remarkable job of transforming a true story into a hard-to-put-down work of fiction.... Unique, literary and entertaining." —The Oklahoman
“Take the already gruesome Donner Party story, add a wagonload of frightening supernatural elements, and you have the ingredients that animate this chilling novel….A compulsively addictive retooling of historical fact.”—Brandeis Magazine
“An unsettling and slow-burning tale that combines history and the supernatural that sure to please anyone with interest in either.”—SF Reader
"It's a testament to Katsu's skill as a writer that she creates characters so compelling that we can't help hoping they will escape the fate we knew was hurtling toward them the moment we opened the book. She ends the novel with an image of sacrifice and an image of reconciliation, each of them powerful and affecting. They give the book a melancholy resonance. It's a fine novel." —Locus Magazine
“Alma Katsu has taken one of the darkest and most chilling episodes in our history, and made the story even darker, even more terrifying. I swear I'm still shuddering. A fantastic read!”—R.L. Stine, author of the Goosebumps and Fear Street series
“Like The Revenant but with an insistent supernatural whisper. The setting and the story are utterly chilling. And the telling of it is so well done.”—Sarah Pinborough, author of Behind Her Eyes
“The Hunger is a terrific historical novel with a thrilling, bloody twist. Alma Katsu’s brilliant reimagining of the Donner party’s fate is rich with character, laden with imminent doom, and propelled by chilling mystery. A novel that book clubs and dark fiction fans should devour with equal relish.”—Christopher Golden, author of Ararat and Snowblind
“If you think the story of the Donner Party can’t get more horrific, think again. In this gripping, atmospheric reimagining of that dark tale, Katsu has created a deeply unsettling and truly terrifying masterpiece.”—Jennifer McMahon, author of Burntown and The Winter People
“An uneasy, nauseous, slow-burning tale that marries historical fiction with a hint of the supernatural. Great detailing; colorful characterization; some supremely ominous stuff, but always reined in at the final moment to rack up the tension even more. Loved it!”—Joanne Harris, author of Different Class and Chocolat
“The Hunger is a bold and brilliant novel, heavy with foreboding and dread, and with a rich vein of humanity at its core. I challenge you to read it without experiencing your own hunger pangs.”—Tim Lebbon, author of Relics and The Silence
“In an audacious twist, Alma Katsu has made something new and suspenseful from the legendary story of the Donner Party. The Hunger is filled with terror, pity, and grue.”—Keith Donohue, author of The Boy Who Drew Monsters and The Stolen Child
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
An inventive reimagining of a grisly chapter in American history.Westward migration, murder, sensation: the story of the Donner Party has all this, which makes it, in its way, a quintessentially American story. This imaginative retelling of the group's journey communicates the fatal naiveté of people who thought they could carry their comfortable lives across deserts and mountains, as well as the particular horrors that befell the families who followed George Donner. The wide-open spaces of the West feel closed in here, as there is nothing but danger and desolation beyond the tents and fires of the wagon train. By focusing on a few figures, Katsu creates a riveting drama of power struggles and shifting alliances as bad fortune befalls these travelers. Not surprisingly, each of her central characters has a past that he or she is trying to escape, and these pasts are intertwined. This serves to create a sense of claustrophobia, a feeling that the coming tragedy isn't just an accident of bad weather and poor leadership, but a matter of fate. And this is all before the ravaged bodies start appearing….As they stumble across corpses that appear to be sacrifices, as they confront their own gruesome losses, the settlers don't know if the evil stalking them comes from within or without. Is the need for human flesh a communicable disease or a hereditary curse? Or is the wilderness filled with monsters? The tensions Katsu creates are thrilling. The final act of the novel, though, fails to deliver. There's a surfeit of back story, and confessions and revelations that should be shocking fall flat, largely because they're obvious. And, most unfortunately, the cannibalism—the thing that makes the Donner Party the Donner Party in history and popular consciousness—becomes boring. The conflicting theories the novel puts forward collapse into confusion, and it turns out that the idea of people desperate enough to break a nearly universal taboo is more interesting than any of the exotic explanations Katsu conjures.Two-thirds of a terrific book.