“Wait, Wilderness Survival Thrillers? Is that even a thing?” Yes it is and yes, I love them. In fact, I’m always on the lookout for new books to read in this category so if you write or have read something you love in this genre, please recommend it to me via Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.
When you think of survival fiction, what comes to mind first? Books like Hatchet, The Martian and The Road come to my mind right away. In these books and other survival-type fiction, the environment itself whether the deep woods, another planet or a post-apocalyptic version of Earth, serve as another character of sorts.
I loved reading Hatchet as a kid. But now I want a similar experience–a protagonist fighting the elements–meshed with a thriller’s pacing. I wanted there to be that threat of “man vs. nature”…and even more on top of that.
These three thrilling reads pair nature and that “other” together beautifully.
#3 Best Wilderness Survival Novel: Wicked River by Jenny Milchman
Wicked River was such an enjoyable book to read. It had everything that you want in a pulse-pounding thriller: lots of chills and thrills and edge-of-your-seat wonderings. It was often hard to find a good stopping point and I frequently found myself saying, “just one more chapter,” reading past my bedtime more than once.
Natalie and Doug Larson are newlyweds and on their honeymoon. Doug, an outdoor aficionado, has talked his new wife into exploring the beautiful and remote Adirondack forest. It soon becomes obvious though, that the happy couple isn’t quite as happy as they thought they were. As dark secrets come to the surface something else becomes glaringly unavoidable: they’re not the only ones in the woods. Something–or someone–is stalking them.
Note: without giving anything away, there is a scene involving animal torture/killing. It’s only a couple of pages but I wanted to warn would-be readers in case you’d like to skim that bit.
This is Jenny Milchman’s fourth suspense/thriller novel. She’s also written Cover of Snow (read it and loved it), Ruin Falls and As Night Falls. A talented writer, she’s also a member of Sisters in Crime and the International Thriller Writers organizations.
#2 Best Wilderness Survival Novel: Hominid by R.D. Brady
Hominid isn’t your typical Bigfoot book. Nor is it a horror novel (despite the creepy cover). I would definitely still classify it in the thriller genre though, with plenty of chills and fast-pacing that keep the pages turning.
Dr. Tess Brannick has advanced degrees in anatomy and physiology. What she doesn’t have? Proof that Bigfoot or hominids exist. And that is Tess’s biggest desire in life: to prove the existence of a creature that has mystified scientists, researchers and believers for hundreds of years.
As Tess has her own encounter, she begins to learn more than she ever thought possible about this alternative creature and its way of life. Simultaneously, she is working with grant-funded monies from a very rich and powerful man…one who wants to see Bigfoot for himself, preferably dead and mounted or turned into a biological weapon.
This was the first of R.D. Brady’s books that I’ve read. She’s written another popular series called The Belial series. The first is The Belial Stone. Really good, strong writer with clear point of view and excellent pacing. And it’s easy to tell she’s someone who enjoys spending time in nature.
#1 Best Wilderness Survival Novel: Hunted by Darcy Coates
Loved, loved, loved Hunted by Darcy Coates. It was such a fun, captivating read that had my heart racing. This was my first book by this author and I went on to read three others in quick succession. Though she writes mainly in the supernatural suspense genre, this novel was all set in the outback of Australia, a rugged and wild place that reminded me of the many wilderness areas here in Vermont.
Eileen, a twenty-two year old adventurer goes missing in the very remote Ashlough Forest. When her camera is found several days later, there are strange photos taken after she disappeared. But what are they of and what happened to Eileen?
Her friends and brother head into the forest to try to find answers when the inept police force find nothing useful about Eileen’s disappearance. It isn’t long though before they realize that something in the forest is hunting them.
Darcy Coates is such a phenomenal writer. I love her books because they’re a beautiful blend of prose and atmosphere…all while maintaining a slow-burning tension in the plot. While not all the characters in this novel are likeable, most are believable. And an unusual twist at the end of Hunted will catch most readers off guard.
So, which wilderness survival thrillers would you recommend? Please chime in with a comment or tag me on your favorite social media platform. I’m looking forward to posting another round of “Best Of” book recommendations soon.
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