Zurvival Saturday (112) Review: Donners of the Dead by Karina Halle

Have you ever read a book that was a great idea in concept, yet lacking something in execution? Donners of the Dead was sort of like that for me. Was it a good book? Yes. Did I enjoy it? Sure. I guess in the end that's really all that matters. However, if you would like to hear more about what I thought, feel free to read on.

Author: Karina Halle
Genre: Horror, Paranormal
Publisher: Metal Blonde Books
Publication Date: February 23, 2014

Jake McGraw was unlike anyone I’d ever known. He was brash, rude, unapologetic and arrogant; chauvinistic, close-minded, and terribly stubborn. He was built like a tree, tall with a hard chest and wide shoulders and hands that looked like they could wrestle a bear. He was a cigar-chomping, scruffy-faced, beast of a man. I was pretty sure I hated him. And I know he hated me. But among the flesh-eating monsters in these snow-capped mountains, he was the only thing keeping me alive

The year is 1851 and pioneers in search of California gold are still afraid to travel on the same route as the tragic Donner party did years before. When the last wagon train to go into the Sierra Nevada mountains fails to arrive at their destination, Eve Smith, an 18-year old half-native girl with immense tracking skills is brought along with the search party, headed by an enigmatic former Texas Ranger, Jake McGraw.

What they find deep in the dangerous snow-covered terrain is a terrifying consequence of cannibalism, giving new meaning to the term “monster.” While the search party is slowly picked off, one by one, Eve must learn to trust Jake, who harbors more than a few secrets of his own, in order to survive and prevent the monstrosities from reaching civilization.

One of the best things about the Horror genre is the fact that the creativeness of the Authors who write it continue to surprise even a die hard fan of the genre like myself.  

Without giving it away, Donners of the Dead isn't just about the Donners themselves like the name suggests but does take place in and around where they were last seen. I really enjoyed how the Author combined the Donner's demise with that of the quest that ultimately lands Eve and her best friend Avery in danger. 

Speaking of Eve, I really liked her character. Considering the time period Eve was free thinking, strong and brave. Eve wasn't content to sit demurely by the wayside while all the men did everything. Instead, she'd get right in the trenches along side them and pull her fair share. Avery on the other hand was an almost unnecessary character for me. Sure, he played the role of best friend to Eve dutifully but for me, he didn't really bring that much to the table beyond that. Now Jake, woah boy, he was everything I wanted in a no good cowboy and then some. Not to mention some of the scenes between him and Eve near the end left me searching for an ice pack.  They were H-O-T, Hot and this is coming from someone who doesn't care for romantic entanglements in the least usually. 

Lastly, I really loved how glued in I became to the story. I read Donners of the Dead in barely an afternoon and that's only because I had to stop and get some actual work done for the day, lol. Had I read this on a weekend I'd probably have finished it in 2-3 hours tops. 

Now although I did like Donners of the Dead and definitely enjoy Karina Halle's writing style, one thing did bug me enough that I thought I should mention it was the ending. While the story does have resolution it just wasn't as I was expecting. I was hoping for some grand reason why all these people had turned into crazed monsters, maybe even a puppet master behind it all (such as Eve's Uncle) but the explanation we ultimately are given just sort of felt lackluster considering. I was expecting a big "Ah Ha" moment but instead I just sort of went "Huh, that's it?". Disappointing indeed.

Final Thoughts
Karina Halle took the story of the Donners (which was already gruesome in its own right) and made it even more upsetting and terrifying by adding zombie like creatures, Indian Folklore and treasure seeking bandits to the mix. I definitely recommend picking up Donners of the Dead and giving it a go, especially if you like Horror Fiction set in the past. 

With that being said, I'll be rating Donners of the Dead by Karina Halle  ★★★★.

 *Copy purchased.  All opinions are my own and I was not compensated in an which way  for providing them.

About this author
Karina Halle is a former travel writer and rock music journalist and the USA TODAY bestselling author of Love, in English, The Artists Trilogy, Experiment in Terror and other wild and romantic reads. She lives in a 1920's farmhouse on a bucolic island off the coast of British Columbia with her husband and her rescue pup, where she drinks a lot of wine, hikes a lot of trails, and devours a lot of books.

Karina is represented by the Waxman Leavell Literary Agency.

Follow Karina: Goodreads / Website / Twitter

Out of curiosity, Have you read Donners of the Dead? 
What other historical moment would you like to see zombiefied?

 Leave me your answers in the comments below or feel free to tweet me them @Hermyoni  

Well that about wraps up this weeks Zurvival Saturday. Like what you see? Please share! I thank you if you do.  Want to check out past Zurvival Saturday's? Click Here


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