Ararat by Christopher Golden

Ararat by Christopher Golden delivers on exactly what it promises: bucket loads of fun, a non-stop harrowing adventure set in a claustrophic snowbound setting – the howling winds and the blitzing snowfall forms a perfect background for the blood, gore and the horror drama.

I am a fan of Christopher Golden – Having loved Tin Men, a blistering scathing social commentary on the possible future of fighting terrorism, I knew I was in for a good ride with Ararat. Christopher doesn’t waste much time in setting up the premise: An adventure-loving couple Adam and Meryam, looking for their next thrill-ride decide on their next target, Mount Ararat in Turkey where it is believed that a recent avalanche has thrown open a massive cave up and rumors claim that the famed Noah’s Ark might be sighted within. A race ensues between different groups of enthusiasts who all want to get their first piece of the spoils, filmmaking crews, historians, archeology students, even the US officials want in on the scene. Department of Defense and the UN Council included. 

But deep inside the cave, the team actually finds what they were looking for. A massive three-level ship complete with ancient hewn timbers, yawning chambers full of dark secrets and a sealed crate. Could this be the actual Noah’s Ark? The discovery, while having potentially huge ramifications, clearly would change the beliefs of the folks on this mission. Forcing some of them to confront their dark buried secrets, guilt and misbeliefs about God and devil. But as the crate is opened to reveal an ancient desiccated corpse, their grip on reality starts to unravel and seeing is no longer believing. Because the corpse actually has a misshapen skull and two protruding horns – and looks too odd to be a human.
The tension in the air soon turns palpable. People feeling the weirdness, the malice and restlessness. Nightmares abound. People lose their sanity and run about at night shrieking and screaming in terror. The leaders of the different teams feel the evil presence – and there are mainly two sets really. Meryam and Adam on their team, along with their trusted climbing guide Feyiz and his uncle Hakan – and the myriad archeology student teams. On the other hand, there is Walker – a veteran from supposedly, the National Department of Science along with Father Cornelius, here not in the capacity of a priest but as a scholar trained in ancient scripts and their UN observer, Kim Seoung form the other half.
But when the storm outside the cave starts to rage, showing no signs of abating and soon becoming a full blown blizzard, the team realizes they are stuck in the cave, with a horror they don’t fully comprehend. And when the light fades at night, bodies start to disappear.
Golden’s book is filled with a lot of characters. And with a pacing that is breakneck and on the nose, we hardly ever get attached to anyone. That could be an issue but not really for me. I had an absolute blast, reading with glee as the snowbound horror escalates in pitch and tension. Exceptionally high body count, gore and unchecked violence slams into you as you feverishly turn the pages, one after the other. Vintage Christopher as we move beyond thirty odd percent of the book. It all starts to unravel – and the rising insanity of the horror that faces this determined group will definitely leave you gasping. The minor characters are one too many but you get inside their heads, just a wee bit before tragedy hits.

Among the major POV’s, Walker and Meryam stand out. Both are sort of mirror images to each other, Meryam with her unquenchable ambition and hard-brass leadership styles and Walker with his resolute no-nonsense approach in dealing with any form of danger.

It’s a smart straightforward novel – brutally fast-paced and rich with the underpinnings of biblical myths but still remains true to the genre of classic creepy horror in more ways than one. You feel the cold fingers of the wind and the howling snowstorm outside even when reading inside your house. And that’s the sign of a writer who really knows his game. The elements of a suspenseful human drama is played out well against the backdrop of this impending doom and this adds a little depth to this otherwise, fleeting fast paced horror story. As I said, no punches pulled; Christopher Golden delivers on what the book promises in spades. Worth your time.


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