Tuesday, March 07, 2023

My Review of "The Hike" by Susi Holliday

A 'Thrilling' Book Review 

Hoping to make some new friends here in Puerto Rico, I decided to start a book club at our apartment complex. In English, since mi espaƱol es muy malo. Most of the residents in our condo community are not from the states and so speak Spanish, but I would say most people in PR are bilingual.

So I posted a message on our group’s FB page and five or six expressed interest. I brewed a whole pot of coffee (10 cups worth!) and one retired gentleman showed up. But he brought cake! We had a wonderful time getting to know one another and had a great discussion about this novel:

The Hike by Susi Holliday (Amazon affiliate link)

It’s a mystery/thriller and a pretty good one at that. I had a few selfish reasons for picking it for our first discussion. One, I like thrillers (yes, yes, I like fantasy, science fiction, westerns, romance, cozies, and a few other genres, but thrillers are regular reads for me). And two, it was already on my Kindle because it was an Amazon Prime pick however many months ago it was offered. I’m cheap like that. (grin)

To set the tone, here’s the relevant part of the blurb that pulled me in: “Sisters Cat and Ginny travel with their husbands to the idyllic Swiss Alps for a hiking holiday…only two of the four hikers make it down from the mountain.” Secrets, intrigue, back-stabbing, and murder are involved. And plot twists.

A lot of good elements – solid writing, descriptive scenes (I was right there in the Alps with the two couples even though I’ve never been), and good characterization. There were only a few situations that pushed the boundaries of believability. But as a reader, sometimes you just have to go with it.

The hardest hurdle for the author to overcome – and she did it well – was writing about four unlikable and non-sympathetic main characters. This is a tough sell because readers usually like to cheer for a sympathetic hero, someone they can relate to who is essentially a good person. Sure, that MC can have flaws and such, but generally we’re on the side of a character ‘trying to do good.’

Well, no one was a ‘good guy’ in this novel – and yet I was still interested in the outcome! In fact, all four main characters were annoying (and yes, there were four POVs here - actually six!), but the main two narratives were the sisters, Cat and Ginny. None of the foursome were wholesome.

Still, I was hooked and had to hike along with them to find out which one thought they were the most aggrieved ‘victim’ of past hurts and slights…and who was thus motivated to kill whom. (Not a spoiler – the prologue sets the basic plot.)

Now about a third of the way in I was done with the sisters’ bickering, but then the author threw in a bit of a twist and moved on to the second act. Like I said, pretty solid writing. Structurally, there’s a prologue that I thought was unnecessary, and then some flash-forwards and POV changes. So caution warning if you don't like a lot of narrative tricks and wiggles. A strong language warning as well, but more occasional for spice, I suppose.

Overall, it worked, at least for me. And for thousands of others, evidently, given all the reviews. The Hike was released last October and is still in the top three or four thousand on Amazon. If you’re a fan of Gone Girl, The Girl on a Train, and The Woman in Cabin 10, then you’ll like The Hike, I’m pretty sure. 4.5 Stars. (This review is also on Goodreads. Follow my reviews there if you want.)


My 52 Week Challenge: Read and Review 52 Books in 2023
(Books listed in reading order, not review order, lol.)

1. Razored Land by Charles Gramlich - post-apocalypse (review TBD)
2. The Stroke of Winter by Wendy Webb - mystery (reviewed Jan 11)
3. Feast of Fools and Other Tales - S&S anthology (reviewed Jan 18)
4. Clovel Sword Saga (Vol 1&2) by Gordon Brewer - sword & sorcery (review TBD)
5. The Hike by Susi Holliday - mystery/thriller (reviewed above)
6. Valengetrix: Ghost of Aratania by J.R. Cason - sword & sorcery (reviewed Feb 25)
7. Swords & Heroes - A Sword & Sorcery Anthology (edited by me!, review TBD)

(This is Sunday Roundup #10)

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