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Thin Air: A Ghost Story

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  4,342 ratings  ·  643 reviews
The Himalayas, 1935

Kangchenjunga. Third highest peak on earth. Greatest killer of them all.

Five Englishmen set off from Darjeeling, determined to tackle the sacred summit. But courage can only take them so far - and the mountain is not their only foe.

As mountain sickness and the horrors of extreme altitude set in, the past refuses to stay buried. And sometimes, the truth w
...more
Hardcover, 223 pages
Published October 6th 2016 by Orion Books
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Average rating 3.82  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,342 ratings  ·  643 reviews


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Blair
Michelle Paver's Dark Matter is one of my favourite ghost stories, but I admit, when I heard about Thin Air, I had doubts that she could recreate the same magic. The story just sounded too similar - Dark Matter was about a group of five men embarking on an Arctic expedition in the 1930s; Thin Air is about a group of five men embarking on a mountain-climbing expedition in the 1930s - and I worried that the new story would effectively be a retread of the old one. Inevitably, there are similari ...more
Bradley
May 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror, 2017-shelf
I really enjoy ghost stories in general, so getting into this modern rendition of a historical mountaineering thriller turned ghost story was pretty fun.

Granted, such stories about climbing mountains in the 30's have a long tradition. And of course, so do ghost stories. But regardless, this mash-up was first and foremost WELL WRITTEN. Modern style, of course.

I had a good time. That's pretty much all. It has brotherly angst, a fight against the elements, tragedy, pettiness, and above all, really
...more
Paul
Jan 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ghost-stories
This is an old-fashioned ghost story, very much in the mould of Michelle Paver’s earlier outing in this genre, Dark Matter. This again involves five men in isolation in extreme circumstances. The setting is a mountaineering expedition in the 1930s to the world’s third highest mountain, Kanchenjunga in the Himalayas. The Guardian review rather neatly sums it up as “Touching the Void” meets Jack London. Central to the story are Stephen, the narrator and team physician who is writing a journal, and ...more
Zuky the BookBum
Aug 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, 4-stars
This was (kind of) a buddy read with Janel at Keeper of Pages.

I always knew going into this book that I was going to compare it to The White Road by Sarah Lotz. Both are books about spooky mountain climbs, and because I loved the former book so much, this one had a lot to live up to. Luckily it didn’t disappoint. It wasn’t quite as good as the Lotz novel, but I think this would be a great introduction to the genre of mountain-horror novels.

This novel felt a little bit slow to get off the ground
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Susan
Feb 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Having really enjoyed, “Dark Matter,” I was keen to read this, new novel, by Michelle Paver. Normally, I dislike comparing an author’s novels, but there is much to compare in, “Thin Air,” to “Dark Matter.” Both deal with remote places and extreme temperatures. Both are, essentially, ghost stories…

It is 1935 and our narrator, Dr Stephen Pearce, has left London, and the woman he was supposed to be marrying, to join his brother, Kit, on a mountaineering expedition. In 1906, Kit’s hero, Sir Edmund L
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Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
This is the third book I have read by Michelle Paver and like the previous two; Without Charity and Dark Matter is Thin Air an OK book, but like the previous book does this also lack something to make the book great. Now is this book way different from Without Charity since that book is a historical romance. However, Dark Matter is a horror book just as this one. Or rather both are ghost stories without any horror. At least that's how I feel. And, that's the big problem I have with this book. It ...more
Ova - Excuse My Reading
Feb 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
"All mountains are killers, but ours is worse than most," says Stephen, the protagonist of Thin Air as he climbs Kangchenjunga, the sacred mountain in the Himalayas.
This is a tense, atmospheric novel set in India in the 1930s. An expedition set on the way to a mountain that claimed many before. The story is told from the viewpoint of Stephen, who is a doctor and the younger brother of the group leader Kits. The novel starts in a soul very likely to Jules Verne's Around the World in 80 days but a
...more
Fiona MacDonald
Jun 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library-books
Absolutely superb. This was a read in one sitting book. I found it utterly spellbinding and somewhat terrifying, whilst at the same time being able to feel the cold and sense the dread on top of a mountain. I loved the idea of the story - that of a group of men following an expedition up to a mountain near Darjeeling in the 1930s where a tragic accident happened to a similar party years earlier. The sense of unease is tangible from the first page and it had me gripped. This really is an author t ...more
Maria Hill AKA MH Books
This is about the dread and fear of being isolated on top of a mountain.

Add a touch of altitude sickness and you have a scary situation.

Add your climbing companions inadvertently leaving you behind and you have a terrifying situation.

Add a malevolent presence on the mountain that, whether real or not, most definitely wishes you harm and you have Michelle Paver's Thin Air.
Stephen
This book was a slow burner and didn't really get going until the final quarter of the novel which was slightly disappointing but thats how I saw the novel
Justine
Apr 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017-read
3.5 stars

A tightly wrought tale that keeps the reader wondering to the end whether the terror is merely psychological, or if there is in fact something dark haunting the slopes of Kangchenjunga.

The main character, Stephen Pearce has joined his older brother Kits in an attempt to scale the summit of Kangchenjunga, following in the footsteps of an ill fated expedition some years before. By turns Stephen is innocently naive and darkly fearful, while simultaneously dismissive of the superstious beh
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Empress Reece (Hooked on Books)
I love stories about climbing expeditions so I try to read as many as I can. This one focuses more on the ghost story aspect versus a lot of climbing details which is still great but if you are looking for more of a technical perspective then you probably want to read a true account instead of this.

With that said, I enjoyed this story immensely but when it's all said and done, it didn't 'wow' me like I was hoping for. It had all of the ingredients of a good ghost story but I just didn't get tha
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Veronique
Oct 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: r2016, stars-4-0
Having loved Paver's previous ghost story, Dark Matter, I just had to try this new one.

Once more we are in a cold, secluded, location, the Hilamayas instead of the Arctic. At first glance, this is quite similar to her previous story but the feel is quite different. I would guess that this kind of tale requires a remote and dangerous setting, somewhere secluded and cut off the real world. Kangchenjunga, as well as other mountains, are places of wonder, where the immense scale becomes alien, and w
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Rachael
Feb 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Hmm. I have no doubt at all that Michelle Paver is a talented author, she certainly writes about the cold and snow very well, but... well I wasn’t at all scared. Not once. I felt the same way about 'Dark Matter,' I couldn’t see what everyone else was talking about, I still don’t. The two novels are very similar and sadly I was underwhelmed by both of them.
I really wanted to love Paver's books, the premises sound like the type of fiction that I love but they fail to deliver. Perhaps all the King
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Sean Smart
Oct 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant ghost story set in the snowy Himalayas of Nepal - I couldn't put it down and read in a day
Amanda
Dec 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
I wanted to read a horror book set in winter, so I picked this one up, not knowing much about it. This book combined so many genres that I love: horror, historical fiction, paranormal, and adventure.

Paver's writing style managed to read like a diary or first person tale from an actual survivor of a mountain climbing disaster. She expertly set up a failed 1907 Lyell Expedition and explained the impact it had on climbers in the 1935 Cotterell expedition at hand. Because of this, combined with the
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Melanie
After loving Paver's previous book, Dark Matter I was really looking froward to this, however I found it rather lacking.

While beautifully written I felt a little like Paver had re-written dark Matter (which is set in the frozen Northern Arctic pre-WW2 with a young male protagonist on a last minute expedition, searching for a sense of self. It's snowy and fucking cold. And there's a dog.) Thin Air is set on a frozen Himalayan mountain pre-WW2 with a young male protagonist on a last minute expedi
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Heather W
Apr 16, 2018 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars. I really wanted to like this book, and it was a quick read however I did not feel anything for the majority of the characters (I didn't mind the main character). The creepiness level was fairly low and the fact that there was no actual conclusion to the paranormal element and we are left to make up our own minds mildly irritates me personally). The ending was dissatisfying and predictable. It is such a shame as I was looking forward to this book as I wanted a slightly spooky read. I w ...more
Latasha
didn't like this one. it's a slow burn but i didn't feel the reveal paid off.
Rebecca
In 1935 Dr. Stephen Pearce and his brother Kits are part of a five-man mission to climb the most dangerous mountain in the Himalayas, Kangchenjunga. Thirty years before, Sir Edmund Lyell led an ill-fated expedition up the same mountain: more than one man did not return, and the rest lost limbs to frostbite. “I don’t want to know what happened to them. It’s in the past. It has nothing to do with us,” Dr. Pearce tells himself, but from the start it feels like a bad omen that they, like Lyell’s par ...more
John
Aug 16, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-books
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Michael Sellars
Jan 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror
As with Dark Matter, the supernatural in this novel is subtle and is experienced as a psychological effect rather than a physical force. Because we care about the protagonist (despite his tendency toward bitterness and self-pity), his psychological deterioration isn't just frightening, it's heartbreaking. A beautiful, intense novel. ...more
Joseph
Ghosts - or fictional ones, at least - tend to haunt inhabited places, whether houses, churches, castles or hospital wards. So used are we to the traditions of the genre that a description of a decrepit mansion full of dark corners and unexplained creaks is enough to raise in us readers expectations of phantoms and ghouls. In this regard, Michelle Paver's "Thin Air" - much like its predecessor Dark Matter - is not your typical ghostly tale since it is the very remoteness of the haunted spaces wh ...more
H.A. Leuschel
Aug 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What an utterly compelling, engrossing and fascinating read. What I loved about this story is that although it's labelled as a 'ghost story', the author described the severe symptoms climbers can experience so well that there was a fine line between reality and mountain sickness induced delusion. The tension between both made it creepy and suspenseful. The novel is set in the Himalayas in 1935 where five Englishman set off from Darjeeling to climb the world's third-highest peak - Kangchenjunga, ...more
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
Feb 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
A slim, taut tale of two ill-starred Kanchenjunga expeditions and a haunting. The voice of a 1930s British narrator is captured incredibly well, to the extent that I initially found it hard going because of the casual racism towards the sherpas who made all these mad imperialist quests in the Himalayas possible. It's a slow build, deeply atmospheric, and quietly devastating.
Gerry
Nov 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Doctor Stephen Pearce travels to India to join an expedition with his brother, Kits. The elite team of five 'Sahibs' will climb Kangchenjunga, the world's third highest mountain and one of mountaineering's biggest killers. It has not been conquered before, and the climbers are following in the footsteps of those of the 1907 Lyell Expedition, which subsequently ended in failure and disaster when five men lost their lives.

Lyell became a hero when he published his memoir, 'Bloody, But Unbowed', whi
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Richard
Jun 22, 2018 rated it liked it
7/10

I originally picked up The Mountain thinking it was this book but realised my mistake shortly into that book, in my defence the descriptions and covers both had mountains. I saw this in an Audible sale and decided to rectify my mistake. This was an entertaining listen into a mountaineering expedition met with a ghost story.

For me the more interesting part was the expedition and the sibling rivalry between the main character and his brother. There’s something about mountaineering in these de
...more
Lisa
Having read and really enjoyed Michelle Paver's previous ghost story, the super chilling Dark Matter, I just had to try out her latest spooky tale. I was not disappointed. Although similar to the aforementioned 'Dark Matter' in several ways, mainly through the use of another extreme and isolated setting, Paver has once again created a spine tingling tale that takes hold of you from the first page and doesn't let you go until the very end. The horror is very old school and subtle, more in line wi ...more
Thomas
Dec 26, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Although I really enjoyed aspects of this, I couldn't suspend my disbelief in ghosts enough to care two figs about the outcome.
Trin
Oh, the okayness of this book. Paver does a good job mimicking the voice of a British explorer in the George Mallory/Edmund Hillary vein (or rather such a man's slightly more sympathetic younger brother). But I feel like she replicates many of that type of narrative's colonialist tropes without really subverting or commenting on them.

Also, for a horror novel, it's just not that scary. Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer's nonfiction account of the 1996 Mount Everest Disaster -- which contains zero ghost
...more
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Michelle Paver was born in Central Africa, but came to England as a child. After gaining a degree in Biochemistry from Oxford University, she became a partner in a City law firm, but eventually gave that up to write full-time.

The hugely successful Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series arose from Michelle's lifelong passion for animals, anthropology and the distant past - as as well as an encounter
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News & Interviews

In most historical romances, love and marriage go together like...well, a horse and carriage. But what if the girl part of the girl-meets-boy...
35 likes · 14 comments
“Yesterday, I was in Hatchards, and I saw a photograph of it, the usual view from Darjeeling. Everything flooded back. The cold. The silence. The dread. It was so overwhelming that I staggered outside and vomited in the gutter. People thought I was drunk.” 1 likes
“In the early 1900s an American named Fanny Bullock Workman unfurled a ‘Votes For Women’ banner high in the Karakorams, and left her visiting card in a glass jar on one of the peaks.” 0 likes
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