Feb 27, 2014

{Review} of Donners of the Dead by Karina Halle

Donners of the Dead by Karina Halle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

GENRE: Horror
THEME: Zombies, Romance and Historical
RECEIVED: Review for tour

A note about this book: Donners of the Dead is set in 1851 – couples were often thrust into marriage together with short courtships, racism was widespread and not overly frowned upon, and women had little to no rights. What wouldn't fly in today's day and age was unfortunately the norm back then - it is worth keeping that in mind when reading this book.

Jake McGraw was unlike anyone I’d ever known. He was brash, rude, unapologetic and arrogant; chauvinistic, close-minded, and terribly stubborn. He was built like a tree, tall with a hard chest and wide shoulders and hands that looked like they could wrestle a bear. He was a cigar-chomping, scruffy-faced, beast of a man. I was pretty sure I hated him. And I know he hated me. But among the flesh-eating monsters in these snow-capped mountains, he was the only thing keeping me alive

The year is 1851 and pioneers in search of California gold are still afraid to travel on the same route as the tragic Donner party did years before. When the last wagon train to go into the Sierra Nevada mountains fails to arrive at their destination, Eve Smith, an 18-year old half-native girl with immense tracking skills is brought along with the search party, headed by an enigmatic former Texas Ranger, Jake McGraw.

What they find deep in the dangerous snow-covered terrain is a terrifying consequence of cannibalism, giving new meaning to the term “monster.” While the search party is slowly picked off, one by one, Eve must learn to trust Jake, who harbors more than a few secrets of his own, in order to survive and prevent the monstrosities from reaching civilization.


Halle always knows how to deliver a horror story that is not only creepy as hell but adds a little romance to spice it up a bit. As a fan of her Experiment in Terror series I couldn’t wait to read a horror story based in the 1800s pioneer days. Even though my history is a little stale when it comes to the story of the Donner party, I really enjoyed stepping back in time and experience the twist of eerie an horror story.

Donners of the Dead follows Eve Smith a young woman who is thrown into a horrific trek through the mountains to track a missing wagon party. With being half native she has a knack for tracking and joins a group of men searching for the missing travelers, including an intense former Texas Ranger. But the group isn’t prepared for what’s in the mountains when monsters viscously attack them. Eve must up her courage and trust a man who seems to have a grudge against her, but they need to survive before the monsters make them their next meal.

Eve is not like any other girl her age, she is a tough and has dealt with the fact she is half native. Her skills make her an assets to the travelers she is forced to work with. It was interesting to go back in history and read about the cultures, livelihoods and folklore of that time. Eve’s character is innocent and adventurous, someone who will be easy for anyone to connect too and hope she can survive the monsters. I loved her connection with Jake the Texas Ranger; I knew there was something different about him.

Jake McGraw is a tough as nails man, who is skilled with a gun and seems to have another agenda on this search. But the readers will enjoy his softer sides and learn a little about his past that has made him a little rough around the edges. I enjoyed his interactions with Eve and that his persona was spot on for what I imagine a Texas Ranger would be like.

Overall this was a quick read that will give you chills and seriously made me not want to take any hikes to the woods anytime soon. Halle always knows how to create spooky settings and shocking moments that I didn’t see coming. As this is stand alone there is an ending, which I felt satisfied but almost a little too rushed. In the end Halle never disappoints, her stories are ones to discuss over a campfire and seriously will have you wanting to keep the lights on.


This is an adult novel with creepy scenes that create this fantastic horror short story. Fans of Kendare Blakes Girl of Nightmares and Gretchen McNeils Possess will enjoyed Donners of the Dead by Karina Halle.

View all my reviews

1 comment:

  1. OH MY GOD. I need this book. When did it come out? I read your review out loud to my fiance and he is currently scouring the internet for it. Sounds like such an awesome read!

    Nora @ The Bookery