Ararat – Christopher Golden
When a newly engaged couple climbs Mount Ararat in Turkey, an avalanche forces them to seek shelter inside a massive cave uncovered by the snow fall. The cave is actually an ancient, buried ship that many quickly come to believe is really Noah’s Ark. When a team of scholars, archaeologists, and filmmakers make it inside the ark for the first time, they discover an elaborate coffin in its recesses. The artifact tempts their professional curiosity; so they break it open. Inside, they find an ugly, misshapen cadaver—not the holy man that they expected, a hideous creature with horns. A massive blizzard blows in, trapping them in that cave thousands of meters up the side of a remote mountain . . . but they are not alone.
Review: I had such high expectations for this horror story. It sounds amazing, but when I finished it, I was very underwhelmed. Everything in this novel just seems so . . . average.
The first sentence of the synopsis is a lie. The newly engaged couple isn’t trapped in a cave by an avalanche. The avalanche exposes an ancient ship on the side of Mount Ararat, and the couple race up the mountain to be the first ones to explore it. Inside the ship, they find a cadaver with horns. As an archology team tries to excavate the remote site, the cadaver causes tension between the team members. Is the creature something evil? Does it prove that the world’s religions are real? Soon, the arguments over the creature turn deadly.
My main frustration with this novel is that the characters are archeologists, but they don’t discover anything. What are all these highly-educated people doing for weeks inside this cave? What else is in there besides the corpses? We don’t get any backstory about the ship, or the mummies, or why they’re on a mountain. The characters argue about whether this is Noah’s Ark, but that’s pretty much it. Whenever the author gets close to talking about the mysteries of the boat, he backs off and refocuses on the far-less-interesting personality conflicts between the archeologists. I think the story of the boat would’ve been more compelling than the angry-archeologists-murder-each-other plot.
Speaking of the plot, it’s too predictable for my tastes. I was really hoping this wouldn’t become a demon possession story because that would’ve been obvious. Guess what? It became a demon possession story.
I did like how the demon moves from person to person. The creature has an unusual way of jumping around. Still, I wondered how the demon got into the first person ever. The demon has a specific way of getting inside people, and I don’t understand how it originally found someone that met its standards. Once it’s inside someone, it can use that person to turn other people into its ideal body, but that still doesn’t explain how it got into the first person. I was hoping that question would be answered, but it wasn’t.
I’m not a big fan of the characters or writing, either. The characters are flat, and the writing feels amateurish. By the end of the book, I didn’t care about any of the characters. I just kind of shrugged when they brutally slaughtered each other.
So, I didn’t love this novel. It’s fairly fast-paced, which is good, and the religious mystery is intriguing. It just didn’t live up to my expectations.
TL;DR: Great premise, but it isn’t executed very well.