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The Drift


The Drift

C. J. Tudor has made quite a name for herself with a handful of great stand-alone thrillers and a superb short story collection. However, she may have outdone herself with THE DRIFT. A novel unlike anything she has written to date, it includes a connection among three storylines that is nothing short of brilliant.

The chilling prologue presents readers with a nameless, soon-to-be-faceless, body. It lies in the snow about to be scavenged by a passing group of crows. The primary chill comes soon afterwards when they fall dead from the sky. This sequence briefly highlights the pandemic that has contaminated mankind. Its effects are brought to us through three individual narratives, each told from a different character’s point of view.

"THE DRIFT wraps up with such a clever way of connecting the three storylines that I never saw it coming. It is a fine suspense read and possibly the best work of Tudor’s illustrious career."

First up is Hannah. We watch her wake up aboard a tipped-over coach filled with other students like herself, the vehicle trapped in a huge snowdrift. The driver is not in his seat, although the survivors are surrounded by equal amounts of dead bodies from this ill-fated ride.

Next up is Meg, a cop who is in a more mysterious and precarious situation. She awakens to find herself hanging way up in the air on a cable car. She has no idea how she and five other people got there. All she knows is that they are on their way to a place simply known as “The Retreat.”

Finally we meet Carter, who is at a lodge located on a snowy mountain. He is grossly disfigured from a major case of frostbite that makes his face look like a blackened pit. Of the three narrators, we know the least about Carter, which makes reading about him that much more thrilling.

The passages featuring Hannah shed the most light on the pandemic, which has left the earth in a near post-apocalyptic state. Whatever the disease is, it seriously attacks the chest, throat and lungs, causing a wheezing sound that cannot be forgotten. This is why the infected are labelled as “Whistlers.” Hannah argues with one of her fellow passengers that this slang word dehumanizes those who are ailing, but it’s hard to argue with fear. A daring escape attempt involving an unpredictable tunneling through mounds of snow is especially spine-tingling.

Meg is still groggy, but she knows she is on a mission to get someone. She discovers the identity of the dead body sharing the cable car with her and now must look at everyone else on board as potential murder suspects. Eventually, Meg is caught in a kind of whodunnit where the people around her are dying one by one. This leaves her to wonder who she can trust and why they are eliminating everyone on board a vehicle that appears to have doomed each of them to death anyway, as no sign of rescue seems to exist.

Carter is dealt a different type of ordeal. The lodge is losing power, and once it fully goes out, it will test the mettle of those located at “The Retreat.” It also will allow the individuals there to finally come clean about who they really are and the agendas they may be hiding.

THE DRIFT wraps up with such a clever way of connecting the three storylines that I never saw it coming. It is a fine suspense read and possibly the best work of Tudor’s illustrious career. I am always intrigued by how my favorite authors were affected by the pandemic. It is obvious that it provided a huge impetus for Tudor to write this dynamic novel.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on February 3, 2023

The Drift
by C. J. Tudor

  • Publication Date: January 31, 2023
  • Genres: Fiction, Gothic, Horror, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books
  • ISBN-10: 059335656X
  • ISBN-13: 9780593356562