The Hunger by Alma Katsu (2019)
The true story of a group of American pioneers that got lost in a snowy wilderness, were driven half-mad and so started eating each other to survive is terrifying enough. Throw in a supernatural twist and you’ve got a real nerve-jangler.
The novel opens with a rescue team arriving at an abandoned cabin the summer after the group disappeared. They don’t find much except ‘a scattering of teeth’, and ‘what looked like a human vertebra, cleaned of skin’.
Rewind to the previous winter. The 90-odd-strong group, led by George Donner, wagons its way across the vast empty plains of the American prairie. Food is running low. Winter is snapping at their heels. They must hurry. Donner decides to take a never-before-trod shortcut through the virtually impassable, tree-choked hills. Then children start to go missing.
Soon, the survivors begin to turn on each other, with only a handful of the party noticing that they face something far more ravenous than the jaws of winter. Something far darker, far deadlier than the cold lurks around them… and within them.