Review of “Thin Air” – posted in

Graham writes…

Michelle seems to have a great skill in researching the background to each of her novels and making sure the readers find themselves fully engrossed in that background as well as enjoying the story she weaves into it. "Thin Air" is no exception in this regard.

I know nothing about mountaineering, and as I am not at all a sporty person it is not something that particularly interests me. More power to Michelle’s elbow, then that she had me gripped from the beginning to the end of this novel, enjoying all that mountaineering background. Everything from the scenery, the technical side of the sport, and the medical background was covered brilliantly. Also, the dating was covered very well too, with the rather racist attitudes of the time (early 20th century) coming through in the language used by the main characters.

The interpersonal relationships, which actually are probably extremely important during a climb, were covered extremely well. This was particularly the case with the narrator, Dr Pearce, and his brother Kits.

All of this ignores the fact that “Thin Air” is actually a ghost story. And I think it ignores it deliberately. Most ghost stories would focus on the ghostly encounter itself, with everything else being background. But I found the mountaineering itself, the description of the locations, and the interpersonal relations of the climbers filled most of the novel, with the ghost story almost being just an overlay. Which worked, for me, extremely well.

As I found was the case with Michelle’s “Wakenhyrst”, there is an element to the ending which you could take as questioning whether it really ends the way you are led to believe it does. It is even more subtle here, and I believe most readers would accept the ending as stated. But my rampant imagination enjoyed playing with the idea that it really ended very differently. I will not spoil your reading by saying any more!

An engrossing read, which is what I have come to expect from Michelle Paver.

Michelle Replies…

And again, thank you, Graham, for that very nice review of Thin Air.  I’m so glad that you enjoyed it!  With best wishes, Michelle