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The River at Night

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A high-stakes drama set against the harsh beauty of the Maine wilderness, charting the journey of four friends as they fight to survive the aftermath of a white water rafting accident, The River at Night is a nonstop and unforgettable thriller.

Winifred Allen needs a vacation.

Stifled by a soul-crushing job, devastated by the death of her beloved brother, and lonely after the end of a fifteen-year marriage, Wini is feeling vulnerable. So when her three best friends insist on a high-octane getaway for their annual girls’ trip, she signs on, despite her misgivings.

What starts out as an invigorating hiking and rafting excursion in the remote Allagash Wilderness soon becomes an all-too-real nightmare: A freak accident leaves the women stranded, separating them from their raft and everything they need to survive. When night descends, a fire on the mountainside lures them to a ramshackle camp that appears to be their lifeline. But as Wini and her friends grasp the true intent of their supposed saviors, long buried secrets emerge and lifelong allegiances are put to the test. To survive, Wini must reach beyond the world she knows to harness an inner strength she never knew she possessed.

With intimately observed characters, visceral prose, and pacing as ruthless as the river itself, The River at Night is a dark exploration of creatures—both friend and foe—that you won’t soon forget.

304 pages, Hardcover

First published January 10, 2017

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About the author

Erica Ferencik

8 books904 followers

Oprah chose Erica Ferencik’s debut novel, The River at Night as a #1 Pick, calling the book “the page-turning novel you’ve been waiting for, a heart-pounding debut.” Entertainment Weekly named it a “Must Read,” and calls the novel “harrowing…a visceral, white knuckle rush.” Miramax has recently optioned the novel for a film.
Her new novel, Into the Jungle, one woman's terrifying journey of survival in the Bolivian Amazon, will be released on May 28, 2019. Publishers Weekly gave it a starred review, calling it: “[A] ferocious fever dream of a thriller…Ferencik delivers an alternately terrifying and exhilarating tale.” Her work has appeared in Salon and The Boston Globe, as well as on National Public Radio.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,437 reviews
Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,480 reviews79k followers
January 10, 2017
Can we just take a moment to appreciate how gorgeous this cover is? I was so excited when I received this in the mail; I kept hearing wonderful things about the story and just holding the book in my hands made me feel like I was going to get splashed by moving water. Early on, I saw many reviewers comparing this book to a modern day Deliverance featuring women on a girl’s trip instead of men. Confession: I’ve never seen the movie or read the book. I know, I know, it’s a classic, but somehow I managed to stay away from all spoilers and discussion surrounding both books (and movie), so this was a truly special reading experience for me! I was able to go into this one blind, which I highly recommend (and I’m doing that more, so maybe I’m just going to start going into most or all books this way). I did look up spoilers on wikipedia to find out the plot of Deliverance and, while yes there are many similarities, I found this to still be a unique and different enough read to stand on it’s own without the constant comparisons.

Whew, now that I got that off my chest, let’s move on. The plot moved slowly in the beginning and took careful opportunities to set up our characters and background. Wini, our narrator, is a cautious and mostly anxious individual whom I bonded with immediately. I am NOT a nature person (ask Mr. Humphrey), and I could relate on all levels to the many issues she had with going on a trip while not having a back up list of facts surrounding the company they were using for the rafting tour and information on the surrounding area. I loved the depth that the author gave to the remaining girlfriends as well; I found myself also drawn to Sandra but slightly disliking Rachel and Pia. I thought this was an excellent way of writing many different characters as we readers have many different facets of personality and will all relate well with the different characters in the story. The first half of the book is heavily character driven, and if you are a reader who doesn’t appreciate this aspect as much as the rest of us do, then hold on, you’re about to jump on the ride of your life.

Once we get to the actual action and begin our descent down the river (with landmarks named things like Satan’s ladder- WHY DO PEOPLE DO THIS FOR FUN?! ), we take off and hold our breath quite literally until the final page. Each time we think the girls are safe for a few minutes something else exciting (read terrifying) happens and we have to clench our butt cheeks again. I read the last 66% of this book is one gasping session, and while I won’t give out specifics, we are kept wondering just who will be alive at the end and survive. I love how she ended the book; there is plenty of closure but it is not clean and neat by any means. We find out how the survivors are doing and our narrator develops a special friendship that is carried through the end and helps ease the pain of her own losses prior to the girl’s trip.

I apologize for how choppy this review is, but I wanted to try and convey the strengths I found in this book without giving away any of the twists and surprises in the plot that make it such a worthy read. I’m really excited to see more reader’s reviews over time and compare notes on their feelings toward the characters and some of the major turn of events throughout the book. (The “Rory Scene” was so disturbing and well written; I’ll be thinking about it for many months and you’ll know exactly what I’m referring to once you’ve read the book.) Highly recommended for fans of exciting thrillers that also contain fleshed out characters; this book had a nice balance of the things I generally look for in an intense read and I think we’ll be hearing Erica Ferencik’s name for years to come. Well done and I can’t wait to see what she comes out with next!

*Many thanks to Scout Press Books for my review copy; it was a pleasure to provide honest feedback!
Profile Image for Melissa.
647 reviews28.7k followers
February 10, 2017
This was a middle-of-the-road read for me or maybe I should say middle-of-the-river; it didn't make the cut to be considered a new favorite, but it wasn’t completely awful either. This would be a B-movie, at best, with a cast of unknown actors that’s released straight to DVD.

The author relies heavily on the seclusion of the setting, the middle of nowhere Maine, to incite fear and that’s fine in the beginning. It totally worked. There comes a point though were that’s no longer enough. Once the anxiety and anticipation wears off, we’re stuck with river rapids, four oddball middle-aged women and a twenty-something guide that’s a bit of a cliché. Maybe I would have found this story more interesting had the perspective alternated among the four women or heck maybe even included the guide.

Instead, the story is told entirely through the eyes of one woman, Wini. Much to her despair, her friends all agreed on a white water rafting adventure in the desolate wilderness. It’s the fear of being left out that makes her agree to go along, albeit grudgingly. Pia, Sandra, Rachel and Wini meet up once a year for a girls trip, to escape the boring nuances of life, but I didn’t get the sense they were true friends. It was hard for me to establish a connection with these women when I struggled to even see them connect with one another on a deeper level. Not until the final few pages, at least.

I wanted more excitement, more fear, just more of everything. The scenario was initially exciting, it felt different somehow, but the whole crux and supposed creepiness of the story was a tad blah and quite predictable, for me. Let me reiterate - it wasn’t horrible, but there was nothing spectacular or memorable about this ‘trip of a lifetime’ or this group of women.

*THANK YOU to Scout Press/Gallery Books and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Shelby *trains flying monkeys*.
1,604 reviews5,988 followers
September 11, 2016
I LOVE stories like this. Survival, river rafting, wilderness stuff. Give me more!
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This one does read like the female version of Deliverance in some ways, but I still enjoyed the heck out of it.
Four women have been friends for years, they usually try and meet for a yearly adventure that lead friend Pia comes up with. They never are the trips that most of them had rather take..like lying in a cabana while drinking margarittas. Pia comes across as a force of nature for the other women and they seem to never want to let her down even when the trip sounds like a nightmare.
The story is told by one of the women, Wini. Wini has a solitary life with a boring job and is extremely lonely after her divorce and her brother's death. She needs to go on this trip to prove something to herself.

Once the women get to the remote location in Maine (Thank the redneck gawds that this one is not set in North Georgia) the woman realize that Pia may have gotten them into a hot mess. It's a very wild river in the middle of complete wilderness. Their guide? A twenty year old hawtie who has a past of drug use. But no fear! He has been down this river around five times already, he is a river god.

Let's get on that river!
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As you can guess..stuff and thangs happen.

I liked this sucker. You take several of my favorite themes and mash them together and I'm just drooling. This one is especially decent because the women are all middle aged with all that baggage that we carry around and those girls own it. The only thing that scared me is the fact that if/when one of my friends come up with a similar hair brained idea I'll jump into the boat too..

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Booksource: Netgalley in exchange for review
Profile Image for Meredith (Trying to catch up!).
814 reviews12.7k followers
February 19, 2017
My feelings are split on The River at Night. On the one hand, I was bored and didn’t care what happened to the characters. On the other hand, some suspense filled situations sucked me in.

When four friends take a vacation in rural Maine, they have no idea that the trip will change their lives forever. Against her instincts, Wini agrees to accompany her three friends on an adventurous trip to rural Maine where they plan to go whitewater rafting on a dangerous river. Although Wini hates nature and has an ominous feeling about the trip, she doesn’t want to be the one left behind, so she agrees to go along.

The first hundred or so pages move rather slowly as the four women drive from Boston to Maine. I found myself bored during this portion of the book, as I was waiting for the action to begin! However, once they start their adventure, the action picks up.

While on the river, an accident occurs, leaving the group to fend for themselves in the wild. At this point, the novel takes on the tone of Deliverance, as the four women become hunted prey and must fight for survival. This is where things get interesting!

There are strong moments in the River at Night, but something was missing for me. The supporting characters were flat (I couldn’t distinguish between Sandra and Rachel), and I couldn’t get a clear sense of Wini, the narrator. On the other hand, there were some interesting elements when the “hunting” began and I was rather anxious to see how things would play out.

I received this book as a Goodreads giveaway.
Profile Image for Linda.
1,285 reviews1,329 followers
September 14, 2016
I received a copy of The River at Night by Erica Ferencik through NetGalley for an honest review. My thanks to Gallery Books and to Erica Ferencik for the opportunity.

"There's nothing wrong with a little fear. Keeps you sharp."

But how does one measure and define that fear? Is it the fear of growing old within the clutches of a dull, mundane life? Or would it be the hollow fear that we've never actually left our mark on anything, anything at all, engraved with the essence of who we truly are?

Four women, long-time friends in fact, plan a 5-day whitewater rafting adventure in the Allagash wilderness in Maine. So out of character for most of them. So out of the ordinary in mid-life.

Wini has packed up her art supplies and become a food graphic designer. She's been set aside by her ex-husband, Richard. Pia, a once downhill ski racer, pursues her lost youth in questionable ways. Rachel, an emergency room nurse of many years, has battled the bottle. Sandra, a teacher, suffers from being an emotional hostage at the hands of her husband of 14 years. Time for a change and a challenge. A challenge that no one sees coming.

Erica Ferencik spreads the petals of relationships between these women. She uses familiar humor and the warmth of deep friendship throughout this story. Ferencik knows how to sidestep from the known into the grasp of the unknown through the reality of frigid rapids and endless forest paths. She places fear into your own hands as readers. How do you release it or does it ever really release you?

This is a beast of a good read. Forego anything and everything from your usual grab bag of reality. Let the leaves crunch under your feet and allow the uncertainty of the raging waters to take you through this one. And you'll know what lies in "the black well of dreams."
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,010 reviews596 followers
January 1, 2017
Nature....outdoors....4 friends....white river rafting....
.....in Allagash wilderness in Maine.

Here I go again ..... ANOTHER RIVER BOOK in my space. This makes my 3rd recently.
I need to be careful not to start comparing. However....this is a VERY DIFFERENT type of 'river adventure' than David Vann's new novel, "Bright Air Black". Vann's book - gets the prize for darkness and complexity.

Both books require life preserve jackets....but "The River Night", has much more 'fluff' with the 'Deliverance', (sorry, I couldn't help myself...but we don't have hottie Kevin Bacon in this story). Not to worry -- we have another druggy-baddie, instead.

Pia is the orchestrator chief.....leader-of-the-pack....an athlete....'strong-like-bull' girl having been a successful downhill ski champ --
Wini is the narrator. Wini is the woman who most wasn't interested in this 'type' of trip. She much would have preferred a luxury resort with poolside service.
She recently survived a divorce- but seems less able to deal with the loss of a brother.
Wini is lonely - sad - and vulnerable.....she allowed herself to be talked into this vacation: girlfriend pressure!
Two teachers:
Sandra -she has an abusive husband back home
Rachel - just feels the need to get-a-way!

These women have all been friends for many years....survived many ups and downs....
marriages, divorce, sickness, death, and personal squabbles....
but they had never been faced with the type of 'surviving' they meet on the river.

The first half of the book is mostly about the relationships of these women...their background stories....
Then.... at some point -- the roller coaster ride on the white river trip takes off full steam. An accident - danger -fear.

This book is not without flaws --and not all the women were easily likable- but reading about them had me fantasized about a trip with my female friends. Of course I thought about how to improve the adventure. Ha! We wouldn't be frightened!
These woman were fighting for their lives on the river - making their bickering seemed trite. I didn't know if I wanted to slap them or hug and comfort them.

The actual 'river' adventures - ( descriptions of the outdoors and remoteness were vivid and lovely). Spooky woods!

Emotions were flying high with these four friends....while they were being put through the tortures of physical endurance. Easier to read about it than experience it for real!

I laughed at one thing.....given that for the past two days, I have felt kinda 'female' ....
like a big crybaby .... either dealing or avoiding my own drama....
It was GREAT to read how catty these 4 ladies could get. I felt normal. Maybe I don't need to see a psychiatrist after all. Maybe I'm just screwy - - at times- - in ways females are. You can laugh now - if you 'want'!

I enjoyed this thrilling River Ride!!!.... a little "Lifetime meets Survival".

Thank You Simon & Schuster for an advance copy!

Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,781 reviews14.2k followers
December 30, 2016
2.5 My favorite parts of this book was the adventure story, the descriptions of nature. Other than that, there wasn't much that attracted me, the character development was I felt, lacking, plus I didn't like any of these women. Too many calamities and my inner critic was screaming loudly. Seemed to be many parts and pieces of other recognizable novels of this kind, though there were a few surprising twists. But the biggest was, who in their right mind would trust a twenty year old guide to keep them safe on a trip of this sort?

Anyway if you go into this just for the adventure story and not question any of the happenings you will probably do fine and like this more than I did.

ARC from Netgalley.
Profile Image for Carol.
1,370 reviews2,155 followers
September 7, 2018
3.5 Stars. GREAT LAST LINE!......but oh I wanted more FEAR FACTOR!

A skeptical Winifred (Win) finally submits and accompanies three of her (young-middle-aged) longtime friends on a much needed weekend trip into the Maine wilderness for a little R&R white water rafting, and as you might suspect run into a bit of trouble beginning with the creepy dudes at the first stop.

(No dueling banjo's here, but there are a few similarities to DELIVERANCE throughout the novel.)

Anyway, as Win narrates, we get to know a bit about the ladies past lives, their strengths and weaknesses, and even get to see and hear some of it in action.

While I really did enjoy the wet and wild ride, (for me) the story was missing the true intensity of survival mode, the fear of being hunted, and most of all, the feel of danger when face to face with the enemy.

All that being said, I still found THE RIVER AT NIGHT an entertaining adventure and enjoyable read!

Profile Image for Kaceey.
1,126 reviews3,708 followers
April 20, 2022
Cue the ‘Deliverance' banjo….
🪕 🎶 🎵

Erica Ferencik has once again taken me on another world-wide trip. But no Brazilian jungles or subzero conditions in the arctic here. Today we’ll be staying local, traveling to the state of Maine. (No passport required for this trip).

Four friends since college have been through nearly everything together. Marriage, kids, divorce, addictions and even cancer. Now they’re about to face their biggest challenge yet. White water rafting on a little known or even explored section of a river in Maine.

What could go wrong? Well…Just about everything, that’s what! This little voyage will leave them running for their lives.

I listened to the audio version and devoured it in only a couple sittings. My imagination was totally enveloped with this story. I couldn’t focus on anything other than making my way back to it when that pesky distraction called life intervened with my listening.🙄

Erica Ferencik has quickly become a favorite author of mine. She has a delightful way of painting a picture of a destination, then drops you right into the middle of it. And with vivid reality you’ll always feel you’re front and center, side-by-side with the main characters, fighting for your life as well.

I have now read all her recent thrillers and have to wait patiently (not) for her to take me on my next adventure! Please hurry Erica!🙏

Profile Image for Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede.
1,937 reviews798 followers
February 28, 2018
This will not be a long review. I just want to explain why I did not find this book enjoyable. And, it's because I really, really disliked the 4 main female characters in the book. I can take, the whole being stranded in a forest away from people and having to get back to civilization while facing dangerous situations. I love stuff like that. What I can't deal with are stupid characters. I honestly should have stopped reading the book, when I read that they spent 45 min in the car trying to find a toilet whiles driving through a forest.

Thre are many, many moments through the book when I wanted to either give up or throw something heavy on a character, but I managed to finish the book. Yes, I did start to skim a bit (or very much) towards the end just to put me out of the misery. I should have listened to reason and stopped at 30%, but I'm just a tenacious idiot sometimes...

I want to thank the publisher for providing me with a free copy through NetGalley for an honest review!
Profile Image for Julie .
4,076 reviews59k followers
April 12, 2017
The River at Night by Erica Ferencik is a 2017 Gallery/Scout publication.

This book is nothing like I had imagined it would be like. I didn’t have any preset ideas, per se, but was surprised by the direction the story took the further along it went.

I loathe comparisons of any kind to other authors, books, movies, or television premises, but, I have to say, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the movie “Deliverance”, while I was reading this book, and I’m pretty sure other people have probably made that connection as well.

The difference here is that we have a group of friends, all ladies, with varying careers and personal lives deciding to go along on a river rafting adventure together. Naturally, things do not go as planned and the ladies wind up fighting for their lives.

Since the story is told from Wini’s first person POV, I got a deeper glimpse into her life and inner thoughts, but, I didn’t feel as though the other characters were fleshed out enough to form a real connection to them. If anything, they got on my nerves, more often than not, which muted my sympathy towards them. They were often catty and petty or immature or shallow, which took some of the edge off the suspense, as well, since I wasn’t emotionally attached to anyone other than Wini.

However, the action makes up for what was lacking in character depth. The story was a little slow moving in the first couple chapters, but once it got rolling it never let up. While the plot was somewhat predictable, there were a few surprises along the way. I did like the way things turned out for Wini, who found a new purpose after her harrowing experience, and is, despite the big losses and disappointments she has suffered in life, ready to look on the bright side, instead of dwelling on the negative, but I did wish there had been a more upbeat tone for the other characters, who were initially confident and free spirited, but are now left struggling with some pretty heavy emotions or with enormous challenges. However, the friendship bond is something positive to hold onto.

Overall, this is a tense and disturbing novel, which, although it needed a little more depth, serves quite well as an adventure thriller. It held my attention and gave me a few chills and thrills along the way, making me squirm a time or two. So, the book is effective and certainly kept me turning those pages, which is probably the most you could ask for from this type of book. I’m a little conflicted about how to rate this one, so as always, when I can’t decide to go up or down, I stay in the middle of the road-

3 stars
*Edelweiss review copy
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,478 reviews7,774 followers
October 7, 2016
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

“Ladies? Your thoughts?”

“Perfect setting for the next Saw movie.”

I was going to come on here screaming WHY AREN’T MORE PEOPLE READING THIS?!?!?!?! and then I noticed it doesn’t come out until January. Whoops. When it comes out y’all should read it.

The combo of the title and the first couple lines of Shelby’s review had me hooked. It made me (and Shelby too as you can see from her review) think of one movie in particular . . .

I knew I wanted it immediately and was all ready for some stuff like this . . . .

The River At Night is about a group of four women who have been friends for 15+ years. They’ve been through everything together – marriage, divorce, kids, miscarriages, new jobs, you name it. Even though they’re all at very different places in their respective lives, they remain close by going on a girls’ trip each year. While the others would prefer to be wasting away in Margaritaville, ringleader Pia is the one who calls the shots. This year those shots have the others dropping nearly a grand on equipment and attempting to ride the rapids (for the first time ever) with some sketch organization that doesn’t even have a website. Have no fear, though, they get hooked up with a super qualified dudebrah who assures them everything will be cooooooooool, man . . . . .

It doesn’t take long to figure out maybe Pia wasn’t interested in the guide’s river rafting qualifications, but his body which leaves the other ladies in a weird situation and me channeling my inner slut shamer . . . .

Eventually things get back on track and the group gets to rollin’ on the river. And then?????????

That’s when things really get interesting . . . .

^^^^^Only not rapey like that one.

If you’re looking for a story that makes your hinky meter look a little like this . . . .

This is one for you. I love action-packed thrillers and this one had me on the edge of my seat. Even when nothing was happening I still kept thinking something was going to happen any second. I’m also woman enough to admit there were a few times where I yelled at the book “don’t do that, you stupid bitch(es)!” and then my husband had to remind me other people live in my house and were trying to watch the ALDS game. Party poopers!

ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, NetGalley!
Profile Image for Laura.
425 reviews1,253 followers
April 18, 2017
I have seen a lot of comparisons to the movie Deliverance, only substituting a female cast in for the male cast. I have never seen the film, so I won’t have anything to say regarding that comparison. I do recommend looking up other reviews if you have strong opinions regarding that movie.

The River at Night follows four friends who decide do something different this year for their annual girls’ trip. They are going to the wilderness of Maine for an adventure where they’ll hike, white water raft, and unbeknownst to them, fight to survive.

The women have been friends for fifteen years. Winifred, our narrator, is lonely and vulnerable after the loss of her fifteen year marriage and death of her brother. She is an anxious individual whose idea of a trip is a luxury resort, so is clearly not excited about a getaway in the middle of nowhere. Regardless, she is convinced by her three girlfriends to go. It was Pia���s idea as the group’s leader and ER nurse Rachel and teacher Sandra are in. Each of the ladies has their own baggage opening up the door for some good drama.

About halfway through is when the real action, high-stakes adventure begins. Before that, it reads more like a women’s fiction novel with a heavier focus on the characters and their relationships. Very character driven. But from this point on, fast-paced action that keeps you on the edge of your seat. A rafting accident leaves the ladies stranded and in need of help. They find themselves becoming hunted prey and must fight for their lives.

The story is exciting with a great deal of suspense. The setting is excellent with it’s remoteness and vivid descriptions. There are a few surprising twists and even a bit of humor throughout. I ended up really enjoying this story. It made the Wrong Turn fan in me really happy.

I won this through goodreads in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for ScrappyMags.
597 reviews255 followers
February 20, 2022
Scrappymags 3 word review: Run!!!!! (One word. Booooyah!)

Shortest Summary Ever: 4 friends in their 40's acquiesce to the pleadings of their girl-pack leader (the pretty one, of course) and embark on an Outward Bound-like white water rafting trip in Maine. Bad stuff goes down. That's pretty much the basics.

Rafting in my mind:
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Rafting in reality:  photo riveratnight4.jpg

What's good under the hood: The dynamic of the friendships between the girls is massively relatable. I could easily picture my college gal-pal crew on an adventure like this, though regrettably, while I'm not the pretty one, an adventure like this sounds like one of my classic hair-brained ideas. Sorry girls. The bickering and grievances between the girls is dead-on; heck who hasn't had sister-like tiffs with their friends? This made me giggle as I could easily swap the book characters with my crew.

The River is a quick read, compact and would be a great audio book for in the car (unless you're on your way to a white water rafting trip). Sharply paced. Direct. Edge-of-your-seat moments though not too scary (again, unless you're about to go white water rafting). Definitely worth the read.

Highly recommended to: adventure seekers, female readers with a tight group of friends (book would 80% appeal to women I believe), those who like outdoor adventure or dream of it, those who want a quick escape book.

What's bad or made me mad: I actually wanted more. Not quite Deliverance more (that movie scarred me for life), but I wanted to be more terrified. The problem was I accidentally read a review that compared the book to Deliverance.  photo riveratnightdeliv.jpg I HATE that because I believe that's what set my expectation level and that made me think the absolute worst, so what ensued wasn't well.. that bad. Lol I think the problem is that terror level would require a longer book which many authors (ok publishers) seem to avoid but I prefer intense and riveting more than quick and efficient. This book could have ruined by white-water rafting goals for life.

A huge thanks to NetGalley and Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books for an advanced copy in exchange for this review.
Profile Image for Holly  B .
849 reviews2,013 followers
October 7, 2017
I really enjoyed this white river rapid raft ride.....GONE Wrong. Its now about survival! I loved that it was about 4 close middle-aged girlfriends just looking to get away and have an adventure! I thought the book was well written and kept my interest through out. If you like adrenaline while reading, I recommend!
Profile Image for Erin *Proud Book Hoarder*.
2,473 reviews1,082 followers
February 13, 2017
A group of close friends get together every year to go on new adventures. This time the four women get wrapped up in a daring river wilderness trip, which only one of them is looking forward to, but that all will go along with to escape the humdrum of normal life. Of course the trip turns into a nightmare mesh of wilderness meeting human depravity.

The River of Night involves four women but is told singularly through the main character, Winnie, a recently divorced and middle-age woman who has a loyal heart and semi-adventurous spirit. The book opens with her small dabs of humor and self-approach, setting a good lead for the story. I dug how the author mainly focused on the dynamics of the friends, including some of them feeling a little betrayed by the boy-crazy friend who puts them to the side for a guide. It added a realism to the story that I frankly see in my own circle of friends. Their bond is strong but not unrealistically clean and chic-lit style. It's sweet because it's awesome but it's not sweet because it's syrupy.

It takes awhile to get to the tension, and when it finally does the story calms down a bit. They have real dangers to face but the second half could have delivered a bit more in some areas. The river is formidable element of nature to contend with and we get our tragedy involving it, but the book could have held other dangers to spice up the story-line, especially involving animals or other elements of the setting. Instead it focuses on the dangers of those who may want to live alone for a reason, a story theme that's been told several times before, but there are differences here that work. Winnie's past history with a brother works into the present because of a unique element of the story-line.

While salvation is granted, there's a bittersweet line that the freedom removed from the the wilderness isn't always a perfect solution. It's good closure but it's not a neat closure, which fits to be realistic and not simply clean and unlike actual life.

A nice balance of pacing and characters for a thriller that - while not fully unique - delivers what it sets out to: a harrowing ride with tense adventure.

Received from netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews.
1,954 reviews278 followers
January 27, 2017
Dangerous, unpredictable, beautiful, yet murky, are the waters that four women pushing forty take on during an annual vacation, trialling white-water rafting for the first time. This holiday forms the crux of the storyline of Erica Ferencik’s novel, The River at Night.

Pia Zanderlee is the leader of a quartet of lifelong friends, who every year commit to a vacation together. It is Pia’s turn to choose the vacation and the thriller seeker in her cannot help but be drawn to the adventure of a white-water rafting holiday, in the depths of Maine. It is hard to convince her friends, ER nurse Rachel, mum Sandra and graphic designer Wini, to join her on this less relaxing style of vacation. However, peer pressure ensues and the women find themselves bound for Maine. Accompanying them on the trip is a young college student hired by Pia, Rory Ekhart, their guide for the duration. After a hairy introduction to the local vicinity, the women camp down, ready for the first day of rafting. Pia soon hooks up with Rory, earning her the ire of the other women. This is short lived, as their first venture into the rapids quickly turns into a disaster and a fight for survival. Injured, without a raft and lacking basic supplies, the group treks deep into the unknown bowels of the forest, hoping to find help. Salvation arrives, but in the unlikeliest of forms and a new threat emerges. The foursome must gather all courage and resilience they have, in order to survive this dangerous encounter in the wilderness of Maine.

It was a refreshing experience to be given an opportunity to read The River at Night by Erica Ferencik. I have read very little in the way of wilderness adventure style novels, so I approached this novel with zeal. The overall experience of reading The River at Night, allowed me to feel like I was an extra friend or bystander in the thrilling events that occur in the novel. I was also able to relate somewhat to this novel, having embarked on a spot of white water rafting before. My experience was nowhere near as harrowing as the events in the novel, but I can see how it is easy to fall prey to mother nature and the elements. I can also appreciate how fast things can go from bad to worse in the isolated wilderness when an accident occurs, leaving you bereft of supplies and means to escape.

The earlier parts of The River at Night, are devoted to setting the scene and for the development of each main character. Each of the four base characters are introduced by Ferencik and their backgrounds explored. Pia and Wini (the narrator) come across as the clearest character wise, while Rachel and Sandra seem to float in the background. The guide Rory, is given very good character treatment by Ferencik. Other characters who come into the novel in the latter parts are well drawn, serving an important part in the events that unfold. What I drew from this novel was as much as it was an adventure novel, it was a novel about testing the strength of the human spirit, in a time of extreme danger.

With plenty of unexpected twists, an intriguing storyline that even plays out like a horror movie in parts, combines to ensure those who embark on reading this novel are in for a white knuckled ride. I liked The River at Night, a lot.
Profile Image for Amy Imogene Reads.
967 reviews849 followers
December 17, 2019
3.5 stars

When I finished reading: wow intense nice, weird antagonist, boring first half, doesn’t pull its punches about the ugliness of female friendships.

Concept: ★★★★
Tension: ★★ and ★★★★★, depending
Antagonist: ★★★

The River at Night is one hell of an interesting read. I can't say I enjoyed most of it, but it definitely hooked me in and I read it in (mostly) one sitting. Equally frustrating and invigorating.

The main character, Win, is a woman who is quietly aging her way through mediocrity as a graphic designer for a food magazine. Once a year, she gets together with her three best girlfriends and does a small vacation. This year, they're on a white water rafting trip at an unknown, off-the-grid lodge. Obviously, the white water rafting trip doesn't go to plan.

My main problem with The River at Night was its bizarre sense of pacing. The blurb—and the title—convey the impression of a river journey with a speculative/thriller element. So when I began reading and spent 150 pages (out of the 300+) trying to get to the part where we arrived at the river, I was already frustrated. Once the river portions began, the book quickly changed its tune and became an interesting study into the depths of female friendships (it's a dark place down there), survivalist mentalities (whoa Nelly, be ready), and the lengths to which nature can still take us to humanity's limits.

HOWEVER. The antagonist/antagonistic force was not— really not —what I was expecting. Still not completely sure about the path the author took to arrive at this plot line. Expecting a speculative or otherworldly twist, I was incredibly shocked at the results.

Interesting read, and incredibly memorable. Completely unrelated to books, it strongly reminded me of the underappreciated female-driven horror film, The Descent—which coincidentally follows a group of female friends who follow their adventurous friend on a vacation to a remote area, albeit with the destination being an unexplored cave as opposed to a river. Different setting and different antagonists, but extremely similar vibes and friendship dynamics.

Profile Image for Jennifer.
350 reviews395 followers
November 27, 2016
Go grab your helmet, water shoes, and raft for a literary diversion down a fast-flowing, wild Maine River in Erica Ferencik's The River at Night. While you grab the materials you need for this trip, you'll need to leave reality behind (if you start to question too much, you'll just get frustrated with this trip).

Winifred, Pia, Sandra, and Rachel lead urban and suburban lives. They've been friends for decades, and each year. This year, the adventurous Pia has picked the locale, and the quartet is headed to the backwoods of Maine for a private rafting trip on an untamed river. You all know how this is going to go, right? (Hint: the words "not well" should be going through your mind).

This book was a fun ride which provided respite from some of the weightier books I've read lately (not to mention real life!). Character development was scant (Sandra and Rachel were totally interchangeable; the river guide was a stereotype.) A major character/plot point was completely unrealistic (not divulging due to spoilers), and there were a few calamities too many (Oh no! Not another waterfall!) Still, one has to recognize the book for what it is, and I was thankful for a diversionary trip to the woods outside of reality -- even for a short while.

Thank you to NetGalley and Gallery for a galley of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Crime by the Book.
192 reviews1,651 followers
November 15, 2016
4.5/5 stars for this gripping, heart-pounding novel!! I'm not typically a reader of adventure thrillers, but THE RIVER AT NIGHT provided just the balance of adventure, thriller, and character-driven story that I need to keep me hooked.

THE RIVER AT NIGHT follows a group of 4 middle-aged women as they embark on their annual girls trip. Winifred, our main character, is a rather timid and self-doubting woman. When one of her friends, Pia, suggests a white-water rafting trip for their annual getaway, Wini is filled with apprehension... but she signs up anyway, not wanting to miss out on the bonding experience. As you can imagine, one thing soon leads to another and what started as an adventurous trip quickly becomes a life-or-death struggle for survival against the elements and creatures of the Maine wilderness...

I was on the EDGE of my seat this entire read. THE RIVER AT NIGHT takes off like a rocket, and doesn't let up until the final page. The characters in this story are life-like and relatable, with each woman fighting her own personal battles, from body image to health concerns to broken relationships. It's just plain fascinating watching these traumas play out against the wilderness of Maine. More than anything else, this is a heart-pounding, unrelenting story of four very ordinary women thrown into an extraordinary struggle for survival.

My ONLY qualm with this book was simply that I found the plot just a bit hard to believe; specifically, the fact that 4 inexperienced people would be allowed by their guide to choose such a grueling and dangerous course for their first white-water rafting trip! But honestly, it's very easy to get past that and simply get swept up in this fantastic story.
Profile Image for Liz Barnsley.
3,470 reviews1,005 followers
January 8, 2017
I raced through this one it was a really rocking read - my geekish love of horror movies came into play here and added to that it had the female friendship vibe on acid - seriously if you are lost in the wild you soon find out what people are really made of!

I liked the way the author took the time to set things up beautifully so that once we hit the rapids so to speak you are deeply involved with this little gang. You'll probably be randomly annoyed by one or all of them but the group dynamic is well realised and compelling.

Then we are on a rollercoaster ride of sheer exhilaration, Erica Ferencik really uses some beautiful descriptive prose to put you right there in the wilds, you can feel and see it all unfolding. Then there is the fact that this is a bit female Deliverance, with a genuine edginess to the storytelling that keeps you gripped. I refer you back to my horror movie comment - think "Wrong Turn" with a river running through it and the occasional unexpected Samuel L Jackson moment (movie fans will get me)

Overall The River at Night is a fast, fun, strangely endearing reading experience that has an undeniable film feel - one I enjoyed thoroughly and made me huddle further under my duvet, I'm fairly sure I'm never going camping...

Profile Image for Edward  Goetz.
81 reviews16 followers
February 5, 2017
More like 3.5 stars, but I rounded up because it was a fun read that distracted me from a world that is pretty crazy right now. It's not going to win any awards, but the author put together good characters, good writing, and a plausible, exciting plot. Enough said.
Profile Image for Tooter.
440 reviews182 followers
May 9, 2017
4 Stars. Surprisingly good!
Profile Image for Amy.
1,939 reviews1,898 followers
January 3, 2017
All of my reviews can be found on www.novelgossip.com

I don’t know if I’ve ever read a book more accurately labeled before, talk about a thriller! I did cut a small part out of the blurb as I think it shows a minor spoiler and all you really need to know is that Wini, Pia, Sandra and Rachel plan their annual girls trip and nothing goes according to plan.

Once the action starts it is nonstop and merciless, though it does take a little time to get there. I enjoyed the initial set up as it provided me with some background on the four friends who decide to go on this crazy trip. I say crazy because there is not enough money in the world that would make me choose to spend one night, much less five in the wilderness in Maine. I’m similar to Wini in feeling like a vacation means a beach and a cocktail, NOT wild animals, a vast forest and countless hidden dangers.

There is such an ominous undercurrent running throughout the book, clearly you know things are going to go south, but even after the first catastrophe, I found myself waiting on pins and needles for the next thing to go wrong. This had me on the edge of my seat the entire time and I was holding my breath one minute, then gasping out loud as Ferencik slapped me with another surprise. There were as many twists and turns as the river itself and I loved how the river was a character of its own. Between the river and the woods, this setting was crafted so well by Ferencik that I could easily picture its breathtaking beauty.

There was such a nice flow in this book, I was frantically flipping pages as I was so desperate to find out if these women would make it out of this deadly and chilling situation alive. It’s a story about survival, and friendship as they realize that their only hope of coming out of this relatively safely is by banding together. It would also be a fantastic movie, Ferencik’s writing style made the wilderness come to life so brilliantly that it was playing out like a movie for me. If you’re looking for a heart pounding read with depth, look no further.
45 reviews100 followers
March 6, 2017
I fell in love with the cover of The River at Night, which definitely influenced my decision to pull it off the TBR shelf. It follows 4 friends on their girls-only white-water rafting "vacation" in Maine. This was a super quick read, and though it wasn't a deep or profound story IMO, it was a fast-paced page turner. For the most part this story follows the cookie-cutter survival story trope, with a few surprises along the way. While the portrayal of most of the characters is pretty shallow, we get a glimpse into Wini's life, which does play a major role in how the survival story plays out.
Profile Image for Stacey.
881 reviews161 followers
March 30, 2019
3.5 The cover of The River at Night called me to pick it up! This has been on my shelf for quite a while and I was so excited to start.

4 friends go on a rafting trip to an 'off the grid' river with a 20 something male guide. That's almost enough information to know that this is the perfect set up for suspense. It is a suspenseful novel with the river as an additional character with these novice rafters conjuring up their nerve and bravado to ride the river and camp in a damp, dark foerest in the middle of nowhere. I liked this read ok, but I had a hard time connecting to some of the characters they met along the way. I would definitely read another novel by Erica Ferencik. She turned up the suspense and the setting added to the chilly feeling.
Profile Image for Trudi.
615 reviews1,455 followers
March 26, 2019
This was "meh" for me unfortunately -- I was expecting a kickass, feminist version of Deliverance and what I ended up with was a lukewarm, trashy, woman-in-peril scenario that never quite grips hard enough. It's ho-hum, pedestrian writing, and the lead characters are all fairly cardboard cutouts, shallow and mostly dislikeable.

It also looks like Eli Roth is set to adapt this for the big screen. Yeah, that sounds about right. There's just enough "murderous hillbilly" and potential for torture porn here to appeal to his sensibilities.
Profile Image for Kate.
606 reviews513 followers
December 14, 2016
As with most books lately, The River at Night is another book I had seen popping up on various social media sites so I was delighted to be able to get my hands on a review copy from Bloomsbury.

The River at Night is a pretty fast paced read with relatively short chapters. I always find that this makes me read a little faster, because one more chapter is never enough when they are short and punchy. In this case, they almost always ended with a question (not literally) and the reader has to keep turning the pages.

The author has done a spectacular job in capturing the wilderness in America. Desolate, menacing and untouched land essentially become the main character for a time, overtaken only by the ferocity of the river on which the female characters are to go rafting on.

I’m not going to lie, I found myself wanting while reading The River at Night. It was a little bit unbelievable in parts, and I know suspension of belief goes hand in hand with fiction, but sometimes it goes a bit too far. I just couldn’t see how the events in the book could actually happen, but maybe that’s just me.

Overall though, it was a gripping read for the most part. My favourite parts were the descriptions of the locations and the pictures painted by the author. Most especially in relation to the river. I could almost imagine the fine mist of water from the bone-crunching rapids, and hear the thundering as it meandered through the land.

While this one didn’t do it for me personally, I would still recommend The River at Night. I do believe its a decent thriller, and one that you could easily get lost in for a few hours!
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