THE RIVER AT NIGHT

Erica Ferencik

An Oprah.com Page-Turning Novels Pick
A Bustle Most Anticipated Thriller Novel of 2017
An Entertainment Weekly “Must List” Pick

A “raw, relentless, and heart-poundingly real” (Ruth Ware, New York Times bestselling author) thriller set against the harsh beauty of the Maine wilderness, The River at Night charts the journey of four friends as they fight to survive the aftermath of a white water rafting accident.

Winifred Allen needs a vacation.

Stifled by a soul-crushing job,

more …

An Oprah.com Page-Turning Novels Pick
A Bustle Most Anticipated Thriller Novel of 2017
An Entertainment Weekly “Must List” Pick

A “raw, relentless, and heart-poundingly real” (Ruth Ware, New York Times bestselling author) thriller set against the harsh beauty of the Maine wilderness, The River at Night charts the journey of four friends as they fight to survive the aftermath of a white water rafting accident.

Winifred Allen needs a vacation.

Stifled by a soul-crushing job, devastated by the death of her beloved brother, and lonely after the end of a fifteen-year marriage, Wini is feeling vulnerable. So when her three best friends insist on a high-octane getaway for their annual girls’ trip, she signs on, despite her misgivings.

What starts out as an invigorating hiking and rafting excursion in the remote Allagash Wilderness soon becomes an all-too-real nightmare; a freak accident leaves the women stranded, separating them from their raft and everything they need to survive. When night descends, a fire on the mountainside lures them to a ramshackle camp that appears to be their lifeline. But as Wini and her friends grasp the true intent of their supposed saviors, long buried secrets emerge and lifelong allegiances are put to the test. To survive, Wini must reach beyond the world she knows to harness an inner strength she never knew she possessed.

With intimately observed characters and visceral prose, The River at Night “will leave you gasping, your heart racing, eyes peering over your shoulder to see what follows from behind” (Mary Kubica, New York Times bestselling author). This is a dark exploration of creatures—both friend and foe—that you won’t soon forget.

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  • Scout Press Books
  • Paperback
  • August 2017
  • 320 Pages
  • 9781501143205

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$16.00

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About Erica Ferencik

Erica Ferencik is a graduate of the MFA program in Creative Writing at Boston University. Her work has appeared in Salon and The Boston Globe, as well as on National Public Radio.

Author Website

Praise

“This novel quickly becomes a dark, more-twisted-than-the-river tale of secrets as night falls in the wilderness.”Marie Claire

“Author Erica Ferencik’s storytelling [is]…brutally effective…hurtling River’s harrowing narrative along in a visceral, white-knuckle rush.”Entertainment Weekly

“This book takes ‘page-turner’ to a whole new level.”Bustle

Discussion Questions

1. “The woods on either side grew dense, impenetrable, alive with their own logic and intelligence” (page 38). Discuss how nature, specifically the woods and the river, act as a character in the novel.

2. The book opens with a quote by Henry David Thoreau. Consider the quote in relation to Simone and Dean, as well as the relationships between Pia, Rachel, Sandra, and Wini. Why do you think the author chose to start the novel with this quote?

3. Concerns about aging and the passing of time come up frequently in The River at Night. Why do you think age becomes a factor in Pia’s encounter with Rory? Why does age matter in terms of Rory’s expertise as a guide? Discuss how age plays a role in the novel and within your own lives.

4. The women use Pia and Rory’s sexual encounter to unearth some frustrations they have with one another. Discuss the strength of their bonds and how a trip like this may have forced them to reconcile previous tensions more than a less stressful vacation would have.

5. Wini, Pia, Rachel, and Sandra have long been friends—but they have strikingly different personalities. Which of the women do you relate to the most? The least? Discuss the reasons as a group.

6. On page 51, the characters learn that the river is largely on public property. Sandra goes so far as to say, “Nobody owns a river, right?” Is there an underlying message about conservation and environmentalism in the novel? Discuss what other ways a river, forest, or public park might be “owned.”

7. Wini, Rachel, Sandra, and Pia have experienced heartache in many different ways. Whose heartache do you relate to the most? The least?

8. In Chapter 7, just before the women truly commence their trip, Wini remembers her last camping experience. Discuss how the loss of her brother affects Wini’s life and how this flashback weaves its way into the rest of the novel.

9. Discuss the two major deaths in this novel. How are they different? What strikes you most about Rory’s passing? About Sandra’s? Do you think that either could have been prevented?

10. As the antagonist of the story, Simone can be seen as ruthless, deadly, and potentially crazy. One could argue, however, that Simone is just another survivor in the novel. Do you think the author means for her to be more than the villain? Why or why not?

11. “This raft—any raft—flips, and when it does, you have to be prepared. You get no warning. You need to always be ready to be upside down and in that water” (page 125). Discuss what it means to be prepared. Which of the women would you trust most to help should you find yourself lost in a similar situation? Which qualities do you believe are most necessary for surviving in the woods?

12. When the trip is over, the women attempt to get back to normalcy. Wini, however, becomes legal guardian over Dean. Does her decision surprise you?

13. Traveling with a group (or a partner) can often strengthen a friendship. Do you think the trip brought these women closer together? Why or why not?

14. Have you ever been in a situation where you say yes to something—even while feeling fearful or deeply distrustful—because you want to be part of a group? What has been the result?

15. The River at Night references loneliness many times, especially in the context of female friendships. Do you feel that the nature of your close friendships has changed over the years? If so, why, and how have you coped with these changes?

16. Fear plays a big role in this book. A natural survival mechanism, fear speeds our reaction times, energizing the muscles for a swifter escape. But what about the role of fear in modern life? Does it ever play a negative role?

17. What is your relationship with nature? Fearful, comfortable, awe-inspired, disgusted, indifferent? Has it changed over the years? If so, in what ways?