THE RIDGE by Michael Koryta

Anyone who knows me well knows that I love a good scary story. Ghosts and spooky things that go bump in the night have always appealed to me, and rather than try to shut that odd side of me out, I have found that embracing it makes me infinitely happier. So it was a happy discovery when I found Michael Koryta had released a new book, The Ridge. I read The Cypress House earlier in the year and while I did like the chilling tale of the man who could see death before it arrived, I enjoyed The Ridge far more. Koryta is brilliant at taking the ordinary and making it scary, and I really admire him for that.

In the opening pages, deputy sheriff Kevin Kimble, a man in love with a woman who shot him, receives an ominous phone call from the town drunk and lighthouse keeper Wyatt French. Uneasy after their conversation, Kimble continues his day, unknowing that French also contacts local journalist Roy Darmus. The two men are drawn together when French is found dead in his lighthouse, surrounded by technical light equipment, maps of the Ridge, and photos of people with the word ‘NO’ scrawled over them. In the days that follow, Kimble and Darmus will discover a terrifying past surrounding the Ridge, and be forced to make decisions that could change their lives forever.

At the same time, Audrey Clark is moving her wildcat sanctuary to the land adjacent to the lighthouse. With sixty-seven cats in total, including a rare black panther named Ira, the move should be a relatively easy undertaking. Nothing could have prepared Clark and her staff for the feline response to their new home, and Ira’s fabulous escape is just the start of the problems that arise when the sun sets and darkness descends upon the Ridge.

To say that I loved this novel almost feels like an understatement. The rich back-story to support the modern mystery, the tormented characters who try their best to get through the day, and the presence of unimaginable evil all form this magnificent story that makes the reader question what they would do if, when they were about to run out of time, they were offered more time, but at a price. When your life is on the line, will you admit defeat? Or do you snatch life from the jaws of death, but in doing so condemn another to take your place? The Ridge is a fantastic story that ticks the boxes as both a creepy ghost tale and taught psychological thriller. An absolute must read for 2011.

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