Karen Bass has made a name for herself by writing well-researched and page-turning historical fiction from a post-WWII German teen’s point of view. What I love about her books is that she breathes life into bits of history that no one else is writing about and she does it with muscular aplomb and page-turning suspense.
The Hill is utterly different from anything Bass has written before. It’s a contemporary thriller about Jared, a rich spoiled teen whose plane crashes in remote northern Alberta, and Kyle, a Cree teen who witnesses the crash and comes to assist. The two protagonists are the same sex and age but that’s the sum of their similarities.
Jared survives the crash with just a concussion and his pilot is alive but injured. His cell phone has no service and he wants to get to the top of a nearby hill in order to light up a few bars on his phone. Kyle tells him that they cannot do that. It’s a forbidden place.
They go anyway.
There’s no cell service, and when they come back down, there’s no plane.
It turns out that by climbing the forbidden hill, the teens have slipped into a different dimension, and this alternate reality is a dangerous place populated with creatures from Cree legend. Now that they’ve slipped into this other dimension, how do they get out? Only by setting aside their differences can the boys puzzle that out and save themselves.
In less capable hands, the novel’s premise could be a disaster but Karen Bass anchors the fantasy element with such gritty, sore and smelly reality and such nail-biting terror that the reader has no choice but to be hooked.
I read this novel in a single long gulp because I could not put it down. And after I was finished, it stayed on my mind.
A phenomenal page-turner. Love the premise. Love the writing. Don’t read this book in bed.