When a violent avalanche uncovers a massive cave in the heart of Mount Ararat, the race is on. Inside the cave is one of the greatest archaeological finds the world has ever known – an ancient ship which experts believe is the legendary Noah’s Ark. But when soon-to-be-married mountaineering superstars Adam and Meryam reach the relic first, they also discover something completely unexpected: scratches in a sealed-shut wooden door that suggest the Ark’s long dead inhabitants were frantically trying to escape something terrifying, and – far more disconcertingly - a deformed corpse that is horned like a demon.
Even in death – assuming it is actually dead – the horrific demon-thing radiates a terrifying psychic power. One of the observers brought in to supervise the excavation has a panic attack as soon as she is within the corpse’s proximity, and there is unrest among many of the more superstitious members of the team. Even the normally indomitable Adam feels unsettled, and is beginning to experience hideous nightmares. But when their colleagues begin to mysteriously disappear – picked off one-by-one by an unseen menace - the fear escalates. Is it the raging snowstorm, the claustrophobia of the cavern or their own innate fear that is the enemy? Or did the Ark’s discovery release something alien, horrifying and remorselessly malevolent upon an unsuspecting world?
Christopher Golden is one hell of a horror writer. His previous novel Dead Ringers was one of the supernatural highlights of 2016 and even Stephen King has described him as ‘the real deal’. Ararat is a lot more formulaic than Dead Ringers – fans of John W. Campbell, Jr’s novella Who Goes There? (Which was itself the basis for John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) will experience more than a touch of déjà vu as they turn these pages, and the horned-possibly-demonic cadaver also conjures up fond memories of Nigel Kneale’s Quatermass and the Pit (1967) – but it is Golden’s mischievous adherence to formula that also makes the novel a lot of fun. There is, after all, something nastily enjoyable about following each disposable character as they stumble unwittingly towards their brutal death. But don’t be fooled, because as soon as we’re sure we know where Ararat is headed, Golden whips the snow blanketed cliff-edge out from beneath us in the most unexpected way. This is masterful high-energy horror writing from an author at the top of his game, but not a book to read if you’re ever trapped in a blizzard at the top of a mountain.
ARARAT / AUTHOR: CHRISTOPHER GOLDEN / PUBLISHER: HEADLINE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW