Descent by Tim Johnston

March 30, 2015 Whitney Review 0 Comments

Descent by Tim JohnstonDescent by Tim Johnston
Published by Algonquin Books on January 6th 2015
Genres: Thriller
Source: Netgalley

The Rocky Mountains have cast their spell over the Courtlands, a young family from the plains taking a last summer vacation before their daughter begins college. For eighteen-year-old Caitlin, the mountains loom as the ultimate test of her runner’s heart, while her parents hope that so much beauty, so much grandeur, will somehow repair a damaged marriage. But when Caitlin and her younger brother, Sean, go out for an early morning run and only Sean returns, the mountains become as terrifying as they are majestic, as suddenly this family find themselves living the kind of nightmare they’ve only read about in headlines or seen on TV.
As their world comes undone, the Courtlands are drawn into a vortex of dread and recrimination. Why weren’t they more careful? What has happened to their daughter? Is she alive? Will they ever know? Caitlin’s disappearance, all the more devastating for its mystery, is the beginning of the family’s harrowing journey down increasingly divergent and solitary paths until all that continues to bind them together are the questions they can never bring themselves to ask: At what point does a family stop searching? At what point will a girl stop fighting for her life?
Written with a precision that captures every emotion, every moment of fear, as each member of the family searches for answers, Descent is a perfectly crafted thriller that races like an avalanche toward its heart-pounding conclusion, and heralds the arrival of a master storyteller.

I’m a true crime junkie, one of my favorite channels is ID (Investigation Discovery) which plays a loop of Disappeared shows where women go out for a quart of milk and never comes back. The synopsis of Descent, involving a young girl who goes missing seemed to fit into that disturbing genre of choice.

Fond Of


  • Descent was an intense roller coaster of emotions, always longing for the return of the girl but knowing it may not be a possibility. With that notion, the reader was kept in high alert longing for the conclusion.
  • The writing was eerie, and hauntingly beautiful. It made a tough topic easy to read.
  • I liked that it was also told from Caitlin’s perspective. It gave a broader view of the travesty of the situation.


Not Fond Of


  • the section on Caitlin’s father Grant and his small visit with Emmett is a bit of a low spot in the novel. This is because the subject of the novel is intense and the majority of Descent matches that pace, and felt this particular part drawled like a country boy.


Final Thoughts

The ending was very satisfactory and went boom, boom, boom, not realizing it was over until I turned the last page. Despite the small bump in pacing Descent was an engrossing read.


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