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Ararat by Christopher Golden

Ararat by Christopher Golden is a horror novel which became a best seller.Usually I do not read many best sellers because for the last 12 years I have been a semiprofessional book reviewer of speculative fiction. When you are a lower ranking book reviewer you tend to get more of the indie authors, and it was rare I received the type of book you see on the top shelves in Target or Barnes and Noble. Recently, however, I have lost my paying gig and after 12 years of regimented reading, I have decided to expand some of my horizons. I would not say it started with this novel but if you would like to read about my personal literary change you can grab that article right here.

Genre:  Horror

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffon

Released:  2017

Stars:  4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Michael D. Griffiths

Soon my newfound literary freedom overtook the sadness of losing my book review gig and I dug through my old oak desk and found three Barnes and Noble cards my mother had gifted me over the last five years. Next question, is there still a Barnes and Noble in Tucson? Yes, there is. So, with cards in hand, I went into Barnes and Noble for the first time in years I thought “I am going to get some new books!” Of course, on this trip I did not wander far away from speculative fiction. Instead, I wanted to gauge what books are good enough to end up in Barnes and Nobles, but too good to be in the hands of a mid-level book reviewer like me. Seeing my vacation had just begun, what better time to read a brand-new book then on a plane flight and what better type of book to read than a horror.

Ararat begins with the potential finding of Noah’s Ark. This part put me off for a little bit because Noah’s ark is so obviously a mythical fairytale, however if people can write books about vampires and evil Sasquatch, why not throw Noah’s ark into the mix? If you can get past this, Golden creates a spooky malingering dread throughout the novel where people work amidst a blizzard on the side of Mount Ararat. In the decayed corpse of this fantastic ark darkness lurks in every corner and the interpersonal and multicultural tensions rise when a demon is discovered in the bowels of the ship. The horned demon is mummified and looks thousands of years dead; however, its malignant evil remains and begins to manipulate the people who are trapped within the dig site amidst a ranging blizzard.

Tensions run high as the Kurds work with Christian scholars while trying to keep the dig secular. A government fixer named Walker is sent in with a United Nations representative. Walker quickly finds even his specialized needs are going to fall short when pitted against this ancient evil. Soon the murders begin, but they cannot be proved. People are going missing; the storm keeping them from having any hope of recovering bodies.

Meryam and Adam are the leaders of the dig, but their impending engagement turns sour as secrets and betrayals are caught on film. This and different conflicts are making them and other people weaker and more easily possessed by the spirit of the demon lurking in the ancient sarcophagus.

The author does a great job providing not only a nerve-wracking atmosphere but also leaving this mixed group of investigators completely shut off from the rest of humanity. The novel builds to a height of terror where the humans feel helpless as one by one, they are cut down then destroyed. This novel delivers on the horror of being helpless and alone, or perhaps worse isolated but with someone you love there who could be killed.

It was nice to read a professionally produced novel. I had never read anything by Golden and this was a great vacation book, I guess the only problem I have with it I have already mentioned and that is the improbability of anything to do with Noah being real. If the whole earth were flooded with saltwater than all the ground would have been salted and no plants would ever grow again. This and a thousand other things make anything to do with the bible a hard pill to swallow, but if you can get past that, this novel brings it home and puts some new twists on how people can be removed from society and unable to get help even in our current age.

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