A gripping and haunting story, The White Road is a real page turner. Tense and raw, it explores the physical and mental effects of mountaineering and the guilt that adventurers feel when they lose their companions.
The main character is Simon, who explores a dangerous cave with a stranger he met online. The adventure goes horribly wrong and affects Simon for the rest of his life. He was filming footage for a website of crazy and weird stuff which he runs with a friend. He’s then persuaded to join an Everest expedition, not for the challenge or any personal ambition, but to film the bodies of climbers who died on the mountain. Yet there’s a sinister presence and he’s can’t tell if it’s all in his head.
The book is categorised as horror, but I’d describe it more as a thriller. There is a gruesome aspect of course, with the presence of bodies and also the effects of frostbite, but the main content of the book is about mental health. For example, what goes through the mind of an exhausted climber with PTSD and low oxygen. Not only was the story very realistically detailed (the author did a lot of research and travel for this), it was sensitive to the issues it covers while having an apparently insensitive narrator. I thought Simon was an interesting choice because he knows he’s a selfish and reckless person. His real thoughts are displayed alongside his insincere words. The other characters, most of them fairly minor, are also interesting. I liked the book and would recommend it if you’re not claustrophobic (the caves…) and you don’t mind reading some horrible details.
First published in 2017.