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Thin Air

Narrated by: Daniel Weyman
Length: 6 hrs and 1 min
4.5 out of 5 stars (617 ratings)

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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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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.

17 people found this 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.

9 people found this helpful

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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.

8 people found this 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.

3 people found this 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 people found this 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 people found this helpful

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The other mountain of madness

Apart from the Lovecraft story alluded to in the review title, I cannot think of another mountain story in the supernatural/horror genre. It should be noted that there are virtually no similarities between the two.
Some reviewers have complained that Thin Air is too similar to Dark Matter. I can see what they mean, but I don't consider it a problem. In fact, I'd be very happy if Paver did a third one. It could be her vaguely M.R. Jamesian remote locales trilogy. I don't usually re-listen to audiobooks, but this one is on my to listen again pile, and I'm debating whether to re-read Dark Matter (I have the first edition hardback) or get it on audio.
I've been generous with the stars because this is one of those fairly rare occasions when the prose and the narration really mesh. Sure, you get good readers reading good stories, but sometimes they go beyond this; there is a synergy in which the narrator isn't just reading the words, he's telling his story. There is no Michelle Paver and there is no Daniel Weyman, there is just Stephen Pearce talking directly to the listener.
(I got a similar effect when I listened to Michael Maloney's reading of Christopher Priest's The Affirmation.)

2 people found this 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 people found this helpful

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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.

5 people found this 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.

13 people found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 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!

7 people found this helpful

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  • Ducky
  • 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!

6 people found this 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.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Dawnde W.
  • 21-12-18

3rd time around....

I cannot express how much I love this book. It is creepy, and cold, beautifully well written, and read exactly as it should be. Every time I listen, I catch something new and even though I have listened to it 3 times.... I still won’t listen in the dark.

3 people found this helpful

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  • jksullycats
  • 31-12-18

Great Story AND Fantastic Narrator

For me, this story has it all. I really have listened to it 4 times. I can not say enough good things about the writing. But what I really want to rate is the narrator. I listen to a lot of audiobooks. Many times, a good story is ruined by the person reading. Thin Air is read perfectly by Daniel Weyman. I have sought out other novels read by him based solely on this performance. He is one of best narrators I've heard. Thank you Michelle Paver for writing such a unique story. And thank you Daniel Weyman for bringing it to life.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Noah Dassel
  • 12-06-20

spooky

I love a good twisted tale of adventure mixed with classic ghost story. this is definitely worth a read if you're into either one of those. deeply disturbing, excellent food setting. highly recommend!

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  • BRIAN CUNNINGHAM
  • 03-05-20

Wonderfully Dreadful

Well written classic horror with a heavy focus on dread, read by an amazing narrator (Weyman's performance was absolutely fantastic.)

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  • scmccarty
  • 11-04-20

An Original & Unique Ghost Story

I previously read Paver's book, Dark Matter, another period ghost story discussing isolation, loneliness and the malevolence of a rightfully perturbed ghost. Thin Air is a departure from that but equally provoking and terrifying; looking deeply at ambition, claustrophobia, sibling rivalry, and fear of the unknown come crashing together on a mountain that is known throughout the world as a "man-killer."

Paver's strength is her eloquent storytelling and prose -- she holds your attention through the perspective of Stephen, a doctor, and a member of the mountain expedition. Stephen is relatable, prudent, and logical but comes up against the reality that something awful happened on the mountain and how "the laws of man" do not seem to apply in the air up there.

Daniel Wayman's narration is spot on -- you can hear the tension in his voice, the terror, and even the annoyance when Stephen talks with his fellow climbers. You're able to clearly differentiate between the different voices of the characters and Wayman weaves a fun, terrifying, and relatable ghost story for us to enjoy.

All in all, this is a stellar ghost story filled with mystery, scares, and plenty of beautiful writing to enjoy. Highly recommend.

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  • anne
  • 04-03-20

Brilliant Wilderness horror

Didn’t think I would ever find a writer who captures wilderness horror (Mental, environmental, paranormal???) as well as or better than Algernon Blackwood. Thank goodness!
Listening to the prologue stated in her own voice, I learned that Paver is a Mountaineer to boot! She actually traced the same route described in this book and experienced many of the details that Steven does.
He has a new fan. I will be listening to Dark Matter next.
Oh and Daniel Weyman was top notch, pitch perfect the whole way through.