Review: Ararat by Christopher Golden


When an earthquake reveals a secret cave hidden inside Mt. Ararat in Turkey, a daring couple are determined to be the first ones inside… and what they discover will change everything.  The cave is actually a buried ancient ship that many quickly come to believe is Noah’s Ark.  When an expedition make it inside the ark, they discover a coffin.  Inside the coffin is an ugly, deformed cadaver, a hideous creature with horns.  Shock turns to fear when a blizzard traps them inside the mountain.  All the can do is pray for safety.  But something evil answers instead.

Ararat by Christopher Golden.  First edition, April 2017 by St. Martin’s Press.  305 pages. Genre: Horror > Demon.  Stand alone.  Read this book as the August 2018 pick for my local book club, Hauntingly Good Reads.  This book fit 2 of my Goodreads Summer Challenges for August –  Let’s get it on: Read a book that features falling in or out of love, and Time of Our Lives: Read a book in which the characters go on an adventure.

I always have had a love / hate relationship with stories that involve demons, possessions and or exorcisms.   On the one hand, I do not like to read (or watch) things with heavily religious overtones.   It’s like politics, I don’t care which way you lean, I just don’t want to hear about it.   It doesn’t matter the religion.  But…. on the other hand,  demon, possessions and or exorcism stories can be pretty creeptastic.  So like I said, I go back and forth on how I feel about them.  I always try to put my own personal thoughts and feelings on religion aside and just enjoy the horror story being told.  It was no different with Ararat.   Of course, I am a little biased.  Christopher Golden is a horror author I really enjoy.  I have read several things by him – short stories, co-authored stories and his own novels- and I always keep my eye out for his newest releases.   So I was pretty excited when this book came out.  Also, again, my own thoughts and feelings on religion aside, I have always enjoyed the ancient stories of floods and of Noah’s Ark, and all the people who have searched for it throughout time.  So again… pretty excited.

Mr. Golden did not have us waiting very long to get this story rolling.  Right from the start we are dropped in to the mystery of this ancient cave high in the mountain.   The cave turns out to be a boat that was buried under rubble and is now partly exposed.  There are several remains – animal and human- laying around this massive boat.  There is an ancient language that is a mixture of several of the oldest languages currently known to man.  In a giant coffin in the lower hold of the Ark, there is a deformed body, dusty and ancient, long dead, with horns protruding from it’s forehead.   It’s body may be dead, but that doesn’t mean this entity is gone.  It’s evil and malice begin to infect the expedition that is there to study the Ark.  People start to go missing.  People start to die.

I wouldn’t say Ararat is extremely scary, but Mr. Golden does a very good job at creating a creepy atmosphere.   Dark, cold shadows are abundant and the isolation and tension builds, never slowing down.  You feel the evil rolling in like waves, small at first and then builds until they are crashing in on top of you.  The creepiness crawls up and down your spine like an army of spiders.  Never extremely terrified, but several shudders throughout the book.   Mr. Golden also does not disappoint with the gore.  There are plenty of brutal attacks on the members of the expedition.  The author never gets too graphic with it, so if gore isn’t something you like, I think you could still enjoy the story.  It is there, but it isn’t TOO much, you know?

I watch a lot of horror as well as read a lot of horror.  I’ve found that possession stories are a lot like zombie stories.  They have a classic formula that we all know and love.  Right or wrong, there really aren’t that many people who want to deviate from that formula.   That was something I really enjoyed about Ararat.  This was a very fresh take on demon possession.  It was not your typical kid-strapped-to-a-bed sort of possession.   I loved the location.  Trapped up a mountain with a demon that can possess anyone whenever it wants to? Oh, hell no!  The location really added to the already frantic, desperate nature of a possession story.  Also, it was just a clever take on the whole Noah’s Ark / ancient flood story.   Every time I thought I had predicted an outcome, Mr. Golden would lay a new twist on me, catching me off guard.  Especially with the twist at the very end.

Ararat is a story that leaves a lot of questions and not many answers.  The answers you do get, are pretty ambiguous.  As the story progresses, you realize that maybe all the answers you think you know, might have come from people who were possessed at the time of revealing the answers.  Was it the demon who spoke or the character? If it was the demon, was it lying or telling the truth?  It is very unclear and by the end of the book and you are left wondering what exactly was the real truth.   Normally I don’t like credibility issues with characters, but it really seemed to work in this novel.

With it’s unique location and take on demon possession, Ararat was an entertaining read.   Possession stories are normally pretty predictable, but this story had plenty of twists for you.  It leaves you with more questions then answers, but it works for this novel.   Christopher Golden did not leave me disappointed with his latest book.  Ararat is a book any horror fan can enjoy, especially those who enjoy demons and possession tales.





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