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Summary

Chosen for Simon Mayo's Radio 2 Book Club, this is the chilling new ghost story from the best-selling author of Dark Matter.

The Himalayas, 1935.

Kangchenjunga. Third-highest peak on earth. Greatest killer of them all.

Five Englishmen set off from Darjeeling, determined to conquer the sacred summit. But courage can only take them so far - and the mountain is not their only foe.

As the wind dies, the dread grows. Mountain sickness. The horrors of extreme altitude. A past that will not stay buried.

And sometimes, the truth does not set you free.

©2016 Michelle Paver (P)2016 Orion Publishing Group Limited

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  • Kaggy
  • United Kingdom
  • 26-02-17

A tragedy that can never be righted

This is the story of two brothers who are taking part in an expedition to climb one of the lesser known Himalayan Mountains and following in the footsteps of an ill-fated expedition that took place twenty years earlier. The main protagonist is Stephen, an embittered man who has recently broken off his engagement because he felt he was becoming too much like his brother Kits. Whereas Stephen is intelligent and introspective, Kits is a natural and popular leader who nonetheless has the flaw of being snobbish and dismissing anybody who does not fit in with his class and his view about how things should be done. From the outset the Stephen is blighted with a sense of foreboding after meeting one of the survivors of the earlier expedition but intends to push on regardless in order to satisfy his sense of rivalry with his brother.
Michelle Paver takes us back to a time when men had been brutalised by the First World War and an imperialist world, but had learnt none of the lessons, instead desperately clinging onto the old order. Their casual racism and cruelty is shocking but even the privileged are trapped in a system of inheritance that only favours one beneficiary and destroys any possiblity of sibling love. The description of the journey through the jungle and finally the mountain is beautiful but also filled with an oppressive sense of discomfort at the alien environment encountered by the men. As the men ascend the mountain they become affected by the altitude and mountain sickness and it is here that Stephen gets the sense there is another presence accompanying them.
The slow reveal of what really happened during the previously expedition is perfectly timed and the poignancy of the tragedy is a visceral blow to the senses. This may be a ghost story but it also goes further by showing us that the we can all be tainted by the knowledge of evil even when we are not the direct protagonist.
The narration by Daniel Weyman is brilliant – a true master of his craft. The book is every bit as good as Dark Matter and I will be recommending this heartily to family and friends.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

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Subtle and chilling

Where does Thin Air rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

9/10

What other book might you compare Thin Air to, and why?

Dark Matter by the same author. I don't mind when a subject I enjoy is revisited by someone who knows how to write it well. It shares many of the same flavours of Dark Matter, including being British to a fault, and I loved every word of it.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes, definitely.

Any additional comments?

Subtle, chilling horror written by an author who has a brilliant voice for it. I recommend this and Dark Matter, by the same author, for those who love a good British ghost story.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • sha
  • FALMOUTH, United Kingdom
  • 19-11-16

perfect old-fashioned ghost story

I absolutely loved Dark Matter and was thrilled to find a new ghost story for the start of the winter. I get through the dark days and nights by listening and reading ghost stories. Somehow just not the same if sun pouring through the windows and birds singing merrily. As I was finishing this the rain was lashing against the windows and the room was lit by soft lamplight and I was so glad to be in my warm, cosy room and not an ice cave.
Once again the author transported me to a cold, hostile place where something dreadful awaits. Totally enjoyed this story and hopefully the author will continue writing a ghost stories and I will certainly buy them. Thoroughly recommend it.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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One of the best downloads this year!

I have been waiting all year for Michelle's new book. I am a massive fan of Paver's ghost stories. Dark Matter was one of the great British ghost stories, and Thin Air is every bit its equal. And the bonus afterward by Michelle herself talking about the book is fascinating.

Another Winner, thank you, Michelle!

When's the next one out?

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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You can tell the writer has been to the Himalaya.

Fantastic story - like being there on the trek. Having climbed to Everest base camp myself, I can honestly say that so much of the landscape descriptions and feelings and fears are exactly as I felts them. An outstanding work of British literature.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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These Chills Really Are Multiplying!

Michelle Paver has produced another genuine chiller with a story that follows an ill-fated expedition to the Himalayas. Although I have to say that of the two of her books I have read Dark Matter is the stronger this one again satisfied in similar fashion. It's a lovely old-fashioned ghost story, no huge horror or monsters just a growing feeling of unease and then dread told with patience and care.

Daniel Weyman is excellent, I've spent quite some time with him in my headphones and here I saw another side to him. This is a real performance and he hits the heights as the story draws towards its climax.

So, just as with Dark Matter this is an easy recommendation for anyone wanting a high quality old school ghost story. If you're after the Walking Dead or lots of gory horror (as I often am) this is much more subtle and won't satisfy. If you're debating between this and Dark Matter I would go for Dark Matter of the two but neither should disappoint.

11 of 14 people found this review helpful

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Fantastic and capturing...a must listen 👍👍👍👍👍

Not what I would usually choose....soooo glad I did! Heard a radio review with the author...and it interested me. 100% recommendation 👍😀

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Great

What a well written and truly spooky story. Loved it. Will be looking for more from this author. Narration was excellent too.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Matt
  • Zurich
  • 18-10-16

Unsettling and very enjoyable

Yes it's largely the same plot as dark matter but with a different setting, but I loved dark matter so this was very enjoyable. The last hour kept me up late and the writing was very descriptive. The extent of human endurance demanded by climbing the highest peaks on earth are fascinating, put a ghost story up there and it's a winner.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Atmospheric

I have listened to this story twice and on both occasions been delightfully scarred. I particularly enjoy listening around Christmas

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Belle
  • 13-10-17

Another hit from Michelle Paver!

If you've read Dark Matter and loved it, you're going to love this one too. As with in line with her typical style, haunting atmosphere, excellent prose, 3-dimensional characters, and subtle but unrelenting terror that grips you tighter than any offering from the blood & gore genre.

I've one request from Audible: Please add all of the books in Michelle Paver's Chronicles of Ancient Darkness. I'd love to listen to the whole series but some of them are missing in Audible.

Daniel Weyman gave an absolutely phenomenal performance as the narrator. He not only has a beautiful tone but also has the acting talent that brings out all the emotions of the characters. He's now in my top list of narrators that also stars Jim Dale, Simon Vance, and Simon Jones. I cannot pay him a higher compliment. Bravo!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Allerdale
  • 13-06-17

Thin Air

This is an engrossing and claustrophobic story whose atmosphere and message gets under your skin. Daniel Weyman does a fantastic job at steering away from a melodramatic performance where others wouldn't have been able to, and Paver does an outstanding job at making THIN AIR more than just your average ghost story. Purchased a copy in hardback so I can scribble my notes down once I listen to it again.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Kasey Ashton
  • 01-01-18

Exceptionally Creepy

Michelle Pacer does it again with a truly compelling and terrifying tale. Claustrophobic creeping dread, best way I can think of to describe the atmosphere she created. The narrator is equally amazing making for a Perfect ghost story for the Holiday season. 12/10 will listen again!