“A Nightmare of Biblical Proportions”: Review of Christopher Golden’s Ararat

A Christian, a Jew, a Muslim, and an atheist walk into a cave…no this is not a poorly devised joke, but part of the plot line to Christopher Golden’s Bram Stoker Award winning novel, Ararat. What begins as an exploration of a newly revealed opening in the great Mount Ararat, ends in loss of sanity, the external and internal battle between good and evil, paranoia, death, and so much more.

Let’s take a step back and talk a bit about the primary location of this novel. Mount Ararat is a dormant volcanic ridge in the far eastern part of Turkey. It is about 25 miles in diameter, its highest peak reaches about 16,945 feet above sea level, and it is the highest peak in Turkey. Ararat’s biggest claim to fame, however, is that it is rumored to be the final resting place of the biblical Noah’s Ark and has long been a topic of exploration and debate among scholars and theologist from all over the world.

Golden takes this fascination with the Ark’s final resting place, and proposes: what if the Ark was found and what if a greater power was held within? Now, what if that greater power was not a benevolent God, but a darkness that feasted on those who neared it?

[Warning: This review does not include any major plot spoilers, but does reveal a few overarching details to the plot and story. If you prefer knowing nothing about a story going in, feel free to scroll down and see the recommendations list then come back to read the rest after you finished the book.]

Shortly after an avalanche reveals an unexplored cave in the side of Mount Ararat, the book’s story begins it’s ascent with a rush to claim this new unexplored area…along with the fame and fortune that would accompany such a discovery – especially if the cave possesses evidence of the Ark’s presence. To our primary explorers’ joyous surprise, this cave is not simply a cave, but the three-decker Ark itself.


Soon, we’re introduced to a vast array of additional characters – an exceptional number of them being granted names and a bit of a role, but primarily serving as the often considered ill-fated Star Trek “red shirts”. The exploratory party that has set out to investigate the Ark consists of scientists, explorers turned authors/aspiring filmmakers, Turkish soldiers/guides/government officials, archeologists, United Nations observers, religious scholars, and an undercover agent from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA – aka the X-Files unit of the U.S. Department of Defense…with an emphasis in weaponizing unexplained phenomenon).

As our series character arrives (52 pages in), it seems the lead team has already revealed quite a bit in its exploration of the Ark – ancient cypress wood in accordance with the biblical story, three decks, animal stalls, the bodies of “Noah” and his family, claw marks on a side door that would have been blocked in by the side of the cave, and a sarcophagus-like container holding a husk of a “human” body with devilish horns…you know, just your general run of the mill archeological finds.

The progression of the story is a slow burn, with the evil gradually seeping and manifesting itself just enough to unnerve the characters, but leave the reader wishing for a bit more. A little past the half-way mark the action ramps up and the characters, who have existed in denial with hushed suspicions, slowly begin to agree that something isn’t right. A few “red shirts” have gone missing, a blizzard essentially traps them on the Ark, and members of the team are increasingly behaving erratically. Eventually, the group gets it together and decides to do all they can to combat or escape the evil that is now in full-on hunt mode.

The title, while marked as a horror, progressed a bit too slowly to ever leave me on the edge of my seat or creeped out. Saying that, it is also highly possible that my horror threshold is a bit different than a casual or non-horror fan, so take my words with a grain of salt.

Additionally, I felt minimal connection to the characters, giving their eventual injuries or deaths a mild “aww” (primarily because I’m inclined to empathize with loss of life – even fictional), but it never took me to the point of “I need to set this book down and have a moment” devastation. I also feel the opportunity to explore and sell the paranoia of our doomed party was missed out on.

On the positive end, I appreciated the questions of good versus evil, particularly the ponderances some characters have regarding whether or not it was the external evil manifesting itself from within them or if it was simply the evil they possessed all along seeping out due to the high stress and fear.

The story itself was an entertaining read; not a straight to my favorites list, but certainly enjoyable. Also, I was excited to discover Golden has written additional books continuing one of the character’s stories AND is in the process of creating a TV series, opening with the Ararat storyline. I can tell you that I enjoyed the title enough to continue the series and to tune in when the show officially debuts.

Happy Reading!!


New Titles Added


The Killer Across the Table by John E. Douglas

The legendary FBI criminal profiler, number-one New York Times bestselling author, and inspiration for the hit Netflix show Mindhunter delves deep into the lives and crimes of four of the most disturbing and complex predatory killers, offering never-before-revealed details about his profiling process, and divulging the strategies used to crack some of America’s most challenging cases.


The Farm by Joanne Ramos

Nestled in New York’s Hudson Valley is a luxury retreat boasting every amenity: organic meals, personal fitness trainers, daily massages—and all of it for free. In fact, you’re paid big money to stay here—more than you’ve ever dreamed of. The catch? For nine months, you cannot leave the grounds, your movements are monitored, and you are cut off from your former life while you dedicate yourself to the task of producing the perfect baby. For someone else. Jane, an immigrant from the Philippines, is in desperate search of a better future when she commits to being a “Host” at Golden Oaks—or the Farm, as residents call it. But now pregnant, fragile, consumed with worry for her family, Jane is determined to reconnect with her life outside. Yet she cannot leave the Farm or she will lose the life-changing fee she’ll receive on the delivery of her child.


The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins

A servant and former slave is accused of murdering her employer and his wife in this astonishing historical thriller that moves from a Jamaican sugar plantation to the fetid streets of Georgian London—a remarkable literary debut with echoes of Alias Grace, The Underground Railroad, and The Paying Guests.


Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey

Ivy Gamble was born without magic and never wanted it. Ivy Gamble is perfectly happy with her life – or at least, she’s perfectly fine. She doesn’t in any way wish she was like Tabitha, her estranged, gifted twin sister. Ivy Gamble is a liar. When a gruesome murder is discovered at The Osthorne Academy of Young Mages, where her estranged twin sister teaches Theoretical Magic, reluctant detective Ivy Gamble is pulled into the world of untold power and dangerous secrets. She will have to find a murderer and reclaim her sister―without losing herself.


Fall; or, Dodge in Hell by Neal Stephenson

Fall, or Dodge in Hell is pure, unadulterated fun: a grand drama of analog and digital, man and machine, angels and demons, gods and followers, the finite and the eternal. In this exhilarating epic, Neal Stephenson raises profound existential questions and touches on the revolutionary breakthroughs that are transforming our future. Combining the technological, philosophical, and spiritual in one grand myth, he delivers a mind-blowing speculative literary saga for the modern age.


Light from Other Stars by Erika Swyler

Eleven-year-old Nedda Papas is obsessed with becoming an astronaut. In 1986 in Easter, a small Florida Space Coast town, her dreams seem almost within reach–if she can just grow up fast enough. Theo, the scientist father she idolizes, is consumed by his own obsessions. Laid off from his job at NASA and still reeling from the loss of Nedda’s newborn brother several years before, Theo turns to the dangerous dream of extending his living daughter’s childhood just a little longer. The result is an invention that alters the fabric of time. Amidst the chaos that erupts, Nedda must confront her father and his secrets, the ramifications of which will irrevocably change her life, her community, and the entire world.


The Things She’s Seen by Ambelin Kwaymullina

Nothing’s been the same for Beth Teller since the day she died. Her dad is drowning in grief. He’s also the only one who has been able to see and hear her since the accident. But now she’s got a mystery to solve, a mystery that will hopefully remind her detective father that he needs to reconnect with the living. The case takes them to a remote Australian town, where there’s been a suspicious fire. All that remains are an unidentifiable body and an unreliable witness found wandering nearby. This witness speaks in riddles. Isobel Catching has a story to tell, and it’s a tale to haunt your dreams–but does it even connect to the case at hand? As Beth and her father unravel the mystery, they find a shocking and heartbreaking story lurking beneath the surface of a small town.


Deposing Nathan by Zack Smedley

For sixteen years, Nate was the perfect son―the product of a no-nonsense upbringing and deep spiritual faith. Then he met Cam, who pushed him to break rules, dream, and accept himself. Conflicted, Nate began to push back. With each push, the boys became more entangled in each others’ worlds…but they also spiraled closer to their breaking points. And now all of it has fallen apart after a fistfight-turned-near-fatal-incident―one that’s left Nate with a stab wound and Cam in jail. Now Nate is being ordered to give a statement, under oath, that will send his best friend to prison. The problem is, the real story of what happened between them isn’t as simple as anyone thinks. With all eyes on him, Nate must make his confessions about what led up to that night with Cam…and in doing so, risk tearing both of their lives apart.


Unsolved by James Patterson

FBI agent Emmy Dockery is absolutely relentless. She’s young and driven, and her unique skill at seeing connections others miss has brought her an impressive string of arrests. But a shocking new case-unfolding across the country-has left her utterly baffled. The victims all appear to have died by accident, and have seemingly nothing in common. But this many deaths can’t be coincidence. And the killer is somehow one step ahead of every move Dockery makes. How? To FBI special agent Harrison “Books” Bookman, everyone in the FBI is a suspect-particularly Emmy Dockery (the fact that she’s his ex-fiancee doesn’t make it easier). But someone else is watching Dockery. Studying, learning, waiting. Until it’s the perfect time to strike.

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