cover image The Mountain Story

The Mountain Story

Lori Lansens. Gallery, $26 (320p) ISBN 978-1-4767-8650-6

Lansens (The Girls) has written a colorful, adventurous wilderness survival novel. Wilfred “Wolf” Truly decides on his 18th birthday during the late 1970s to commit suicide by leaping off the cliffs of the California batholith known as Angel’s Peak. The decision comes after a series of personal setbacks, including a serious injury to his best friend Byrd Diaz, the early violent death of his mother, Glory, and the imprisonment of his ne’er-do-well father, Frankie. When the depressed Wolf rides the tram to ascend Angel’s Peak, his fellow passengers are three generations of the Devine family: granddaughter Vonn, mother Bridget, and grandmother Nola. He discovers the often sick Vonn has a party-girl streak, the clairvoyant Bridget has trained for a triathlon, and the newly widowed Nola carries her husband Pip’s cremated remains to sprinkle atop Angel’s Peak. On their trek to reach the summit, with the November darkness falling, the ill-equipped hikers get lost. As they begin a harrowing five-day ordeal in the remote alpine outback, Wolf forgets his suicidal intentions. The realistic details, such as the traditional herbal medicine used to fight Nola’s broken-bone infection and the threatening coyotes and vultures, provide the narrative’s raw edge. Genre readers will also be swept along as the suspense builds in this first-rate character-driven thriller. [em](May) [/em]