2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
October Skies is another exceptional thriller from Alex Scarrow, he is book by book establishing himself as one of the best thriller writers around.
Check out his other titles Last Light & A Thousand Suns
His use of the time slip style is second to none, each chapter building the story and tension until the amazing conclusion. The mark of a good thriller writer is to keep you guessing, and October Skies does just that all the way to the end. The characters are as usual Alex's strong point, he develops each person brilliantly, no thriller works unless you care what happens to the character and Alex makes you do just that.
I also think the book delivers a scary image of just what could happen in the US, thanks to the power of religion in US politics.
I can't wait to see what Alex produces next.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
I've said it before and I'll say it again, and many times more I'm sure, Alex Scarrow has a fine imagination. He is also a remarkable storyteller with the power to pull the reader into the tale alongside characters who are not only lifelike, they are extremely intriguing as well.
In October Skies, one of Scarrow's books for adults, the author turns his attention to parallel tales, one taking place in the 1850s in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, California, and the other set during the presidential elections of 2008. When journalist Julian Cooke comes across the wheel of a wagon, lost in the woods, he realises that he may have found another `Donner Incident', the remains of another wagon trail that vanished to history and became lost in myth and folklore, which here focuses upon a figure known locally as the Rag Man. Julian's suspicions and interest are increased when he also finds buried a journal.
This novel, then, moves between the technoworld of the present day journalists and the past world of the journal, written by Ben Lambert, a man searching for adventure and inspiration among the pioneers of the wagon trains. He travels with a group that mainly comprises Mormons who have left others of their religion and instead have chosen to follow their charismatic leader Preston into the unknown. When winter draws in earlier than expected, the mountains prove impossible to cross, and so the travellers must become settlers, surviving in the most inhospitable of environments while trying to maintain civility. This all falls to pieces when a woman is found brutally murdered in the woods. Something is let loose.
This gripping story, which is so vivid you can almost share the intense cold, hunger and fear of the travellers, is told alongside that of Julian Cooke and his friends. As he tries to hold onto his exclusive, Julian slowly becomes aware that forces are as much at work against him as they were against Ben Franklin. As the mystery grows, and its significance increases, the danger becomes more intense, especially when it becomes clear that Cooke's discovery may have an impact on the presidential election currently underway.
October Skies is horror, thriller and historical fiction combined. We can be in no doubt that something terrifying has gripped the camp of suffering settlers as they try in vain to keep the other world of the wood from their camp and keep a grip on their religion. While these scenes from the 1850s are scene stealers, I did find myself continually wanting to remain in whichever of the stories I found myself at the time. With twists and turns, madness and ghosts around every corner and behind every tree, Ben and Joseph are in great danger. While I admit that I may be easier to frighten than many, October Skies is deliciously chilly.
on 24 November 2013
A great story set in two time periods. One covers the trek from East to west USA by a varied bunch of people in the 1800's the other in modern day where some reporters stumble across their story.
in the 1800's the story centres around the Mormons who have some very dark secrets amongst them. Once the wagon train is held up by snow the mood becomes very dark and events quickly turn gruesome.
The modern day story is more political and a little less interesting. I'm not sure why the two main characters have this apparent 'will they won't they' thing going on. It really doesn't work and seems totally unnecessary.
The ending is a little contrived for my liking and how someone manages to escape the wilderness with a broken femur is beyond belief. Still, a gripping tale and well worth a go.
on 19 October 2013
I found Alex Scarrow by chance trying to find a good read. Well, Mr.Scarrow you definitely rate up there with the best. I just cannot get this story out of my head. How brave those pioneers were to take on the journey that they did comes to life with this story, you are there with them, unbelievable, scary, chilling, haunting and realistic. I was unable to put this book down. Even five stars doesn't do this author or book justice but that is only how much you can rate it, it really should be a ten.
on 8 May 2014
Overly long, and quite repetitive. I had as much interest in the modern day part of the storyline as in the latter day part, unfortunately the modern day part was fairly superficial. The dual personality part of the storyline was not really to my liking.
Should add that I have thoroughly enjoyed all other books that I have read from this author. I started out thinking that I was also going to enjoy this one - but it was just not quite right.
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 6 November 2008
I first discovered Alex Scarrow through stumbling across his peak oil apocalypse thriller LAST LIGHT, which was for me, both riveting and gripping - not to mention life-changing with the issues it raised. Then read A THOUSAND SUNS and now his new novel OCTOBER SKIES goes beyond these to a whole new level of brilliance.
In OCTOBER SKIES, Julian Cooke, an ambitious young media flyboy who owns a reality/documentary TV station is in the Sierra Nevada mountains when he discovers the remains of a pioneer wagon train buried in the forests. Also there is a diary of one Benjamin Lambert, one of the travellers, which forms a parallel historic plot set in 1856 when the wagon train becomes stuck in severe snow. Then people begin to die, and strange things begin to occur - who is The Rag Man, why are the local Native American Indians involved, and what secret is religious zealot William Preston keeping?
In the present day, Julian investigates the 1856 events and it soon becomes apparent that someone wants to keep the lid on things, even if it means committing murder!
The plotting of the 1856 and 2008 timelines and what linked events was spot on, especially loved the vivid detail and no-holds barred gruesome murders during the 1856 scenes. Real old-school horror in parts reminiscent of Graham Masterton! I have to say that William Preston's character was suitably menacing and misguided what with the "angel's voices" he heard in his head, you could feel the chill of the mountain winter too!!
Altogether, great to read something with an original twist and the timeslip techinque worked a treat. Along with THE FINAL RECKONING by Sam Bourne, best read of 2008!
on 3 May 2015
A well written book that did stretch the imagination rather wide, but for all that as an adventure story I enjoyed the read. It flowed nicely, which is always a big plus for me and although I guessed the end a little early on, there was a nice twist at the end.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 24 January 2010
The book is split between present day (2008) and 1856. Our modern day protagonist, finds a diary from 1856 chronicling the journey through the Rockies by a group of settlers. A mixed bunch (Mormons, Irish etc) the diary of English Gentleman, Ben Lambert tells of the stresses and strains as the different groups struggle to pull together through the harsh journey and the tragedy that befalls them all.
The book reads fantastically well, is gripping and suspenseful. However, for me personally, the inclusion of the Presidential candidate in the present day time-line completely ruined it for me, it was clumsy and unnecessary and actually detracts from the book as a whole.
So for that 2 stars....disappointing as the idea was fantastic and started off so well!
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 29 November 2011
I really enjoyed this book to start with, but the ending was a little disappointing and too fantastical for me.
The story is split three ways - the story of the 1856 travellers who get stuck in the mountains in winter; the story of Julian and Rose who discover their camp in 2008, along with a diary; and the story of William Shepherd, a mormon presidential candidate with an interest in the travellers' story. These three stories are interwoven throughout the book.
I've listed the stories in order of interest here.
The story of the travellers is gripping, the characters were strong, interesting and the story very nicely detailed. When the murder occurs, you are left wondering who did it and I found myself flitting between suspects. The eventual reveal of the murderer is also very compelling. In fact, I think that this part of the book could've been a standalone story really!
The second story, of Julian and Rose discovering the camp and diary, was relatively interesting but I felt parts of it were rather unnecessary - such as the implied attraction between them which was never explored. Also I was a little confused about how they knew all about everything which happened since the parts of the diary we see don't seem to be very detailed, and it was left unfinished. I found that the jumping between past and present was well done, and really added to the cliffhanger endings of some of the 1856 chapters.
The third story, of William Shepherd, really seemed like a step too far. I can only assume that the author wanted to be controversial in bringing presidential elections into the book, but it was unnecessary and the ending seemed rather ridiculous to me. I found myself skipping some of the middle chapters featuring Shepherd.
In summary, I think this book would've been just as good if it had just been the story of the 1856 travellers. The present-day storyline didn't add a lot, apart from a little speculation about who/how many survived from the 1856 group. The president storyline seemed tacked on and pointless to me, and made the ending seem stupid. However, overall I felt it was good.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 27 October 2008
Scarrow has really put the boot into the Mormon church. It's inevitable then that some readers will love it and some will really loathe it for that reason. As a result I expected to see a slew of five star and one star reviews, and already it seems that pattern is taking place.
For my money, religion-bashing aside, October Skies is a chilling historical/present day thriller with a sort of creepiness that reminded me at times of Thomas Harris' Red Dragon. Pretty good stuff. I couldn't put it down!!