Headline | 2017 (18 April) | 320p | Review copy | Buy the book
Adam and Meryam live for adventure. A modern couple, newly engaged, they have become well known for the videos they record on their perilous expeditions across the globe. But everything they have done before now is about to fade into insignificance once they take a call from an old friend and trekking guide in Turkey. An earthquake and avalanche has hit Mount Ararat and a huge cavern has been exposed high in the mountain’s side. They aren’t the only explorers who want to know what’s in that cave and the race is on to claim it first. Meryam and Adam win.
The cave is all that anyone could hope for – it is the Ark, trapped in the mountain, astonishingly well-preserved and now exposed for the first time in countless ages. Meryam is project manager but the team that now investigates it is large, including archaeologists, linguists, pathologists and doctors, as well as others whose job it is to watch. There are mysteries hidden in the wreck and governments are interested, particularly here so close to Iraq. And that’s even before the religious connotations of the Ark are considered. Can any one religion lay claim to the Ark?
But all of this goes by the by once Meryam and her team descend further into the body of the vessel and find a mummified corpse encased in an inscribed sarcophagus, covered in pitch. On its head are the remains of horns while its limbs are distorted. It is abundantly clear that this hideous corpse is most definitely not Noah.
Christopher Golden is such a fine writer of horror (and other things) – I loved his earlier novels Snowblind and Dead Ringers, both of which chilled me to the bone (I’ll never forget the ending of Dead Ringers – that book gave me nightmares!). I’m delighted to say that Golden has done it again. Taking us far away from the comforts of modern life into the Godforsaken cold of the remote and lethal wintry mountain, we can expect anything to happen. And it does, almost immediately. How I love horror novels set on cold, isolated mountains and frozen wastelands.
The team find it hard enough to get along as it is, even without the horror that is thrown at them, and the tension is immense. Some characters we get to know better than others (for some rather obvious reasons), but the ones that we do get to know are developed very well, with hints of their past lives beyond the mountain. There are several little groups of people within the larger team and it’s intriguing moving between them. Not that it pays to get close to anyone in Ararat. The rate of attrition is high to put it very mildly indeed.
Ararat is a frightening novel (hooray!) and it is also a very gory and violent one. There are bits you might want to read with your eyes closed. Obviously you have to suspend your powers of disbelief and there is something rather inevitable about much of what happens but Ararat delivers exactly what I wanted from it. It’s a very well-written, satisfying, frightening, chilly and gory horror extravaganza and, if that’s what you want, that’s what you’ll get. More, please!