In February 1959, a group of nine experienced hikers in the Russian Ural Mountains died mysteriously on an elevation known as Dead Mountain. Eerie aspects of the incident, unsettling and unexplained causes of death, a strange final photograph taken by one of the hikers and signs of radioactivity, have led to decades of speculation over what really happened. This gripping work of literary nonfiction delves into the mystery through unprecedented access to the hikers’ own journals and photographs, government case files, dozens of interviews and the author’s retracing of the hikers’ fateful journey in the Russian winter. A fascinating portrait of the young hikers and a skilful interweaving of their story and the author’s investigations, here for the first time is the real story of what happened that night on Dead Mountain.
I’d been wanting to read this nonfiction for ages but never really felt in the mood for it. Just before Christmas I picked it up, and it did take me a couple of weeks to read, but it was worth it! An emotional and insightful look at the mysterious Dyatlov Pass Incident.
I’ve always been interested in mysterious happenings, at the ripe old age of 10 I was receiving books about poltergeists, spontaneous combustion, missing people cases and so on, so when I first heard about the Dyatlov Pass Incident, of course my interest was piqued! Then, when I found out there was actually a novel ‘solving’ the case, I was even more interested in it.
I haven’t read any other novels on the case, but I can imagine most of them get straight to the nitty-gritty of what they think happened to the unfortunate hikers, Eichar, however, builds his conclusions very slowly. At times, I felt a little bit annoyed about this – I really would just love to know what the hell you think happened! – but on the other hand I loved the way he made the hikers more than just an unfortunate accident. He breathes life back into them. Eichar takes diary entries, photographs, and interviews to build an intricate and honest look into each of the hikers days that lead up to their deaths.
As for Eichar’s theories on what really happened to the Dyatlov hikers, I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s a sad story, rather than a spooky serial-killer-ghost one. While I love mysteries of the unknown, when it comes to something as tragic as this incident, it’s nice to have an answer to “what happened?”… I think Eichar’s theories seem legitimate and well researched, so when the book claims to have the “true story” I can believe it.
I don’t want to say too much about this novel because it’s the sort of book that needs to be read to be appreciated, hence my almost mini review, but I think this was a very good and well written nonfiction novel. At times I found some of the goings-on a little tedious, but overall it was an interesting read.