When a newly engaged couple climbs Mount Ararat in Turkey, an avalanche forces them to seek shelter inside a massive cave uncovered by the snow fall. The cave is actually an ancient, buried ship that many quickly come to believe is really Noah’s Ark. But when a team of scholars, archaeologists, and filmmakers make it inside the ark for the first time, they discover an elaborate coffin in its recesses…and when they break it open, they find that the cadaver within is an ugly, misshapen thing…and it has horns. A massive blizzard blows in, trapping them in that cave thousands of meters up the side of a remote mountain…but they are not alone.- Goodreads
I was drawn to Ararat by the prospect of reading a horror novel based around Noah’s Ark. I’ve never read Christopher Golden before, never read anything marketed as fiction involving Noah’s Ark either. So, really, I had no clue what I was getting myself into when I picked up the book.
Ararat is a fast-paced horror thriller with a good dose of atmosphere. When they’re inside the ark, you can immediately feel the evil settling into the air. What do you get when Jews, Muslims, and Catholics all find themselves working together at a religiously significant site? At first, just a bunch of people there to do their jobs, which was refreshing! I liked how Golden set things up for this. With the UN oversight, the restrictions about not claiming the area for any one religion, etc. It kept it from taking a left turn into becoming a festering ball of religious one-upmanship and animosity. So, when tensions start to build after the evil has firmly got its hooks in, it’s easy to read it without bias.
I wish that the book had focused a bit more on Meryam (and Adam) as I felt there were some unexplored possibilities there. Towards the end, I felt like I didn’t know Meryam nearly as well as I wanted to. That made it a bit harder to root for her, and to feel the appropriate emotions at certain times. Instead, the main protagonist of Ararat is exactly the type of guilt-ridden male figure you expect to find in these books. I do give the author points for saddling him with some real issues, though! He – the whole cast, really – was still interesting enough that I had trouble putting the book down to go to sleep!
But, people who read a lot of horror novels are going to be able to lay out the rough details of the last half of Ararat. The author does throw one or two curve balls at you, but the rest of it is fairly predictable. Ararat is an enjoyable read, but just not as exciting for the more jaded readers. The way the last few pages are written, Golden is setting the stage for a possible sequel at some point. I’m ambivalent about that. I think a large-scale version of the possibilities he’s left dangling would be interesting, but I’d have no interest in reading something that centered on just a few people.
Overall, while not a breath-taking thrill ride, Ararat is a great introduction to Christopher Golden. If you have read him before, I have a feeling you’ll be satisfied with this latest work. There’s plenty of action, tons of atmosphere, and people dying all over the place. What’s not to love?