Ben is supposed to meet his vendor during a business trip at some odd mountain top hotel. As Ben arrives first, he’s game to explore the terrain surrounding the inn. And indeed, there is a defined path that seems tailor-made for a woodsy stroll.
Ben’s hiking bliss does not last. And in the next few days (years) of his life, it will seem that Ben’s every nightmare and bad memory manifest themselves into things more horrific to be imagined. He tangles with homicidal dog-faced men, a man-hungry giant (literally), and all other sorts of creatures that seem determined to steal his very being. Ben also meets help along the way, including a vaguely familiar older woman who gives Ben some valuable seeds, and a talking crab who adds some comic relief along the way.
Ben learns, and often the hard way, that remaining on the path is crucial to his survival, and return to his real life. It’s tough to adhere to a path that cuts through ocean and terrain alike, but Ben manages, even though he bungles along through most of his travail.
The Hike is a modern-day fairy tale, a hero’s journey of sorts, a Bildungsroman of a grown man who badly needs to let go of the horrors of childhood. The book is by turns horrific and whimsical. Ben is a believable Everyman, an average Joe that you will cheer on even when he’s being an idiot.
I started this one after plowing through a shorter book that I didn’t like. The Hike was a much, much better choice.
Pair this one with John Connolly’s The Book of Lost Things, another good book brimming with fantastical, scary, and humorous elements.
(William Hicks, Information Services)