Wini, Pia, Rachel, and Sandra have always taken trips together, but white water rafting is a new one for them. At Pia's insistence, the four women are heading off on a five day trip that'll be packed with camping, hiking, and rafting - on a river very few have the opportunity to ride. And in spite of her many reservations, Wini agrees to go.
Unfortunately, an accident on the river turns their vacation into a dangerous fight for survival.
Oh, Wini. You're something of a creature after my own heart. I am notorious amongst our friends for being a bit of a stick in the mud when it comes to outdoor activities. I'm not into camping at all and frankly I'm a bit too out of shape to really enjoy hiking. Nope, I'm happy at home with my books - where it's warm and not icky.
And that brings me to rafting and why my friends would hate that I even read this book. Our good friends are rafting guides! And they're constantly trying to get me out on the river! And it's one thing I might actually do - if we were canoeing the mellow Whiskey Chitto back home, that is.
So see, Wini and I are simpatico!
The River at Night begins with a bit of a Descent feeling to it. Which I loved! Pia is gung ho for the trip: Pia chose everything, including the guide (the son of her father's friend). And the fact that it's a river many don't raft (because of the access to a put-in, supposedly) is a big red flag for the reader. And then there's a weird run in with an area hunter before they arrive at their destination, emphasizing again the fact that almost no one rafts this river...
But it turns out the river may not be their biggest concern. With all kinds of beasties and creatures roaming the wilds of Maine, there's plenty for Wini to fear.
Things get off to a good start for the women. In spite of reservations, they're in high spirits and excited to spend time together. Of course things go downhill fast. Just one day into the trip, in fact.
I loved The River at Night! I thought it was a fabulous debut and absolutely great page-turning fun! The characters are fabulously drawn, as are the relationships between them. These are women who have known each other for over a decade - the best of friends - but as with all friends there's an underlying tension between them. I think Ferencik captures that well, illustrating the bonds and friction that make up close relationships. And while there's not much time to focus on each woman's background (it is a rather slim read - just under 300 pages - and there's the whole rafting trip gone wrong to focus on), I found that Ferencik did manage to inject quite a bit of detail (subtle and otherwise) about each of them and their histories. I felt comfortable with these women, like I knew them and knew them well!
Of course all of that adds to the overall experience of this read, and again it was a page-turning one. The story is packed with tension and action, enough so that I desperately wanted to finish in one sitting - I was close, up again and finishing at 5 am!