Review: Donners of the Dead by Karina Halle

Donners of the Dead by Karina Halle

Donners of the Dead by Karina Halle
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: February 22nd 2014
Purchase: Ebook • Paperback

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.

***This is NOT New Adult***

A warning to those who are a bit iffy on creepy stuff–DO NOT READ THIS AT NIGHT. I repeat–DO NOT READ THIS AT NIGHT. This book will freak you the eff out. It’s got guts and blood and gore and tons more… Donners of the Dead was one hell of a book to read.

I usually stay away from anything horror. I don’t read gory books, and I sure as hell never even watch scary movies. But this was Karina Halle, so of course I had to read it! And the synopsis was completely intriguing as well. So I set aside my fears, and I ended up really enjoyed Donners of the Dead. It’s personally not my favorite of Karina’s books (hello, Mateo!), but for fans of the author, I’d say to give this book a try.

Donners of the Dead is really like nothing I’ve ever read, never mind that I don’t read horror. It’s the fact that this book has got everything in it–it’s part horror, part romance, part suspense, and part western. How many of you can say you’ve ever read a book that’s like zombies meets the wild, wild west? And what’s even better is that Karina Halle does a fantastic job blending these different genres together.

Donners of the Dead is a twisted, sinister tale based off of the famous Donner Party story. It’s set in the mid-1800s, and we have our heroine Eve who is half white and half Native American. Because of her mixed heritage, Eve is not respected in her community, and she is thrown to the wolves by her family when a search party arrives and wants Eve to help them track some people. Eve absolutely doesn’t want to go–it’s incredibly dangerous, but her uncle forces her to go anyway. I had a hard time connecting with Eve throughout the book, but I could easily admire her for her bravery in going through with being the tracker for the search group. She’s not a delicate girl–she’s headstrong and tenacious throughout the journey.

The search party consists of a variety of men, some of whom gave Eve, and me, the creeps. But then there’s Jake McGraw, the former Texas Ranger. He’s very much a man’s man–he’s big, burly, smart, harsh, and very good with a gun. But he’s got a strong prejudice against Eve, and this means it’s hate at first sight for Jake and Eve. They do NOT get along at all when they first meet, but sometime along their treacherous journey the two of them develop feelings for each other. I actually really enjoyed the pace of their relationship. It wasn’t too fast or too slow, and the romance balanced perfectly with the horror aspect of the book. That being said, even though I really liked the sexual tension between Eve and Jake, their chemistry didn’t make me feel for them. I wish I could have connected with the characters more, but I at least appreciated Jake once he started showing his feelings and being all romantic. 😉

What really got my heart pounding though, was the creep factor in this book. The stuff Karina Halle comes up with is seriously the stuff of nightmares. Okay, so it wasn’t exactly SCARY, but just majorly CREEPY. I literally had to put the book down several times to calm myself down and look over my shoulder to see if anything was there….

Karina Halle rocks at writing–she made the horror come to life in this book! I can always count on enjoying the writing and the storytelling when it comes to Karina. So even though the story wasn’t the best, the writing and storytelling was compelling enough to make up for it. I didn’t LOVE the book, but I definitely enjoyed myself while reading. Karina Halle fans should definitely give Donners of the Dead a try!

3.5 hearts!



One thought on “Review: Donners of the Dead by Karina Halle

  1. I absolutely LOVED this book!! I just love zombie/historical books. I never read a zombie historical before so this book was a first. I wish there were more books in this setting. Very unique!

    Betul E.

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