After reading the most excellent, Dark Matter, by the same author I came to this book with delicious anticipation. Also subtitled ‘a ghost story’ , Thin Air tells the tale of a 1930’s expedition to conquer the Himalayan mountain Kangchenjunga.
Steven Pearce, the expedition medic is the narrator and we learn very early on in the book that this group are following an earlier and celebrated, though ill fated, attempt to climb the mountain.
The story is told in Paver’s wonderful, brooding style, perfectly fitted to a ghost story and the descriptions of the place, its beauty and unrelenting harshness are very evocative. I listened to this book on audible and as a footnote Michelle Paver speaks about some of her preparation and research for the book which included going to see the great Kangchenjunga for herself. It shows in her writing that she has seen this place.
So why am I disappointed? Great title, great cover, great writing, what’s not to like? Nothing actually but the story, for me, was just too close to Dark Matter. It wasn’t just the fact that, obviously, there is a ghost! The author again explored the social snobbery of the era, the appalling handicap of not quite being ‘one of the chaps’. The main character, once again, has become an expedition member as a ‘last resort’. I won’t say too much about the actual ghost but the slow realisation is again there as in Dark Matter.
Having said all that, if I hadn’t read Dark Matter recently I would have probably given this book a four star rating or even five but it’s just an honest opinion to say that, even though the descriptions of place (which are beautiful) are very different , the first book spoiled the second for me.