I am a BIG fan of Dark Matter by Michelle Paver. Not much frightens me but even years after reading it, the central image still gets me in the viscera.
So I was delighted to discover she'd written a new novel in the same vein, Thin Air. Another period ghost story satirising the rigid masculinity, class prejudices and colonial superiority of 1930s British explorers.
Except this time it's about a team of mountaineers scaling a peak in Nepal, rather than a scientific expedition to the Arctic.
Paver writes brilliantly about extreme physical conditions, and about groups of men living on the edge of their nerves. The atmosphere of dread forms with crystalline and ineluctable clarity, like an icicle.
I loved the central relationship between the brothers on the climbing expedition. My only complaints would be that I would have liked a deeper exploration of this relationship.
Reading Thin Air, I was reminded of a film called the Dyatlov Pass Incident. I had it on my watchlist for a long time but ultimately it got away from me. It's about the true story of nine Russian hikers who were found frozen to death on Kholat Syakhl (Dead Mountain) after inexplicably fleeing their tents. I found the idea hauntingly sad and maybe that's why in the end I never watched the film.
But there's a whole sub-genre out there on those mountains. I hope Paver goes back to it, and others follow.