The AbominableThe Abominable by Dan Simmons

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was wary approaching ABOMINABLE. I liked his other recent works, DROOD, and THE FIFTH HEART but felt both were bogged down somewhat by too much detail. And judging from the reviews I’d seen, ABOMINABLE was getting tarred with the same brush.

But I needn’t have worried. There is indeed plenty of detail here, especially of climbing gear and clothing, and the acts of climbing itself, but it serves the story better than in the other books, and where DROOD especially felt somewhat claustrophobic and dense, ABOMINABLE feels much more expansive and open, and gives a real idea of the joys of being on top of the world, and the freedom that can be felt there.

I hate heights. They make me go weak at the knees, and just reading some of the scenes here had almost the same effect, a testament to Simmons’ way with a descriptive passage.

Simmons’ prose is as excellent as ever, and the narrator, Jake, feels fully formed and alive. It’s a tale of derring-do on the world’s highest peak of course but it’s also about friendship, and adversity, and conquering obstacles. There’s also much in the latter part of the book that reminds me of some of Alistair Maclean’s adventures, with skullduggery in snowy landscapes.

It takes twists and turns I wasn’t expecting, and the title of the book might seem like a misnomer to some, as expectations of snowmen are a bit of a red herring. That doesn’t detract from the story. It’s a hefty book, but it doesn’t seem like it, and I thoroughly enjoyed Simmons’ return to the cold landscapes he evoked so wonderfully in THE TERROR.

Quality stuff, and highly recommended.

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