Epeolatry Book Review: Neverest by T. L. Bodine
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Author: T. L. Bodine
Publisher: Ghost Orchid Press
Release Date: 25th April, 2023
Synopsis: One year ago, Sean Miller—journalist and mountain climbing enthusiast—reached the summit of Mount Everest and was never seen again. Unable to move on without knowing the truth of what happened, his widow Carrie insists on an expedition to search for Sean’s body so it can be properly laid to rest. Tom, Sean’s best friend and former climbing partner, agrees to serve as expedition guide and promises to keep Carrie safe on the mountain, despite their complicated relationship history.
Guided by a travel journal left behind by her husband, Carrie ventures into the frozen, open-air graveyard of the world’s tallest peak. But as Sean’s diary and Carrie’s experiences reveal, climbing the mountain is more than a test of endurance; it’s a battle of wills with an ancient and hostile force protecting the mountain—and the dead do not rest easy at the summit.
NEVEREST is a survival thriller with a hint of the supernatural that will appeal to fans of Ally Wilkes’ All the White Spaces and Amy McCulloch’s Breathless.
Survival is a self-preservation instinct embedded into our DNA, which is why it always perplexes me when I hear about people seeking out dangerous situations. Activities such as Cliff Camping, Wingsuit Flying, BASE Jumping, Bull Running and Shark Diving are lucrative business these days but… Why would you desire this? Why pay so much money to put your life at high risk?
I hoped to understand more as I ventured into T.L. Bodine’s Neverest.
Bodine’s Mount Everest is a realistic landscape, inhospitable, treacherous, and a graveyard where no corpse can be retrieved. Bodine’s title is a clever homage to this, and alludes to the supernatural elements that appear later. For a while, I couldn’t stop wondering if Neverest was going to be similar to Michelle Paver’s Thin Air and Dark Matter, but while Paver sets her work in the 20th century, Bodine sets Mount Everest in modern society with littered base camps, tourists, and even a Starbucks coffee at the beginning of Carrie’s ascent (not the actual Starbucks, which made me chuckle).
Of course, Mount Everest excels at its eerie atmosphere because it is seen mainly through Carrie’s vision. Her inexperience at climbing is evident. But as her mind swirls with grief, her inability to let her husband Sean go becomes quite compelling. The dread builds and builds as Carrie ascends further up Mount Everest. Secrets about her marriage are revealed along the way as she reflects on the good and bad times. The dread accelerates faster when she is handed Sean’s journal, which was found among his possessions. She becomes obsessed in reading his words almost secretively, prolonging his presence and their time together.
Guiding her up Mount Everest and keeping a careful watch on her is Tom, Sean’s best friend, who is full of guilt and remorse for not being a part of Sean’s expedition. From the beginning, I guessed there was more to Tom than meets the eye, including his relationship with Sean and Claire. My suspicion grew, along with my dislike of him. Yet his determination to keep her safe and keep his promise to guide her proved admirable.
All three characters have their flaws and attractive qualities, which makes them realistic. At the same time, I do not feel any sympathy nor feel like they received their ‘just desserts’ in the story’s conclusion. Rather, I am more tense, shocked, and awed. It felt like the mountain, the ‘goddess, mother of the world’ made the decision in the end, unbiased and unswayed by the reader’s like or dislike of characters. As a horror fan/writer, I love the ending, and assure others that their effort will be worth the climb.
Overall, Bodine captures the majestic landscape vividly. Mount Everest dominates every scenario, alive as a beckoning figure who can switch moods in the blink of an eye. Bodine masters the structural flow like we too are climbing alongside Carrie’s expedition. Neverest doesn’t follow behind other tales like Paver’s Thin Air and Dark Matter, instead, it stands out higher, just like Mount Everest, with a tougher plot shell to crack until it’s too late.
So, does this mean I too will take up climbing mountains? Or pursue other thrilling dangerous activities? (Oh, how I wish I could put the laughing emoji here.) No, I will not, but I am a little bit closer to understanding why people chase such dangers. After all, isn’t reading horror books a type of danger too?
Available from Amazon.
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Corinne Pollard is a new disabled horror writer from West Yorkshire, UK with published works in Sirens Call eZine and Trembling with Fear. With a degree in English Lit and Creative Writing, Corinne has always enjoyed the world of dark fantasy. Aside from writing, Corinne enjoys metal music, visits to graveyards and shopping for books to read.