on July 4, 2013 :
The underlying premise of 'Caught in a Storm' brings to mind the 'Marie Celeste', the mystery ship found floating with a meal on the table and no one on board. But instead of an abandoned ship, elk hunters George and Mary, caught out by an unexpected blizzard, have stumbled across a fully furnished hut. And many moons have clearly passed since the occupants walked out the door.
While George lights a fire, thankful for the hut’s small stock of firewood, an exhausted Mary finds an old diary. And after an anxious night, she is transported back in time as she starts to read entries penned by the woman of the house.
Having overlooked the fact that 'Caught in a Storm' was a longish short story rather than a standard length novel (my bad!), I was surprised when the plot suddenly wrapped up, with few twists and turns other than the story’s final revelation.
Had the author interleaved episodes from the historic diary with the elk hunters’ efforts to stay alive, the story may have been a more satisfying read. As a reader, I was looking for more dramatic interludes to retain my interest, for example the couple’s inability to leave the hut for a week because of an unseasonal build up of snow.
Being out of food and running out of firewood would have heightened the tension, providing time to compare and contrast the two storylines. And I would have liked the pair to have unearthed more clues to the couple’s disappearance, deepening the sense of intrigue.
From a practical point of view, I couldn’t help wondering why a hut that must have been less than a day’s walk from the road had remained undisturbed for so many years. And the dialogue was clunky in parts, for example: ‘He said that if they were careful with the wood, burning only a piece at a time to keep off the chill, the wood should last through the night.’
Great story idea, with room to improve re its execution.
(reviewed 33 days after purchase)