Five Total Strangers by Natalie D. Richards – Review

When Mira flies home to spend Christmas with her mother in Pittsburgh, a record-breaking blizzard results in a cancelled layover. Desperate to get to her grief-ridden mother in the wake of a family death, Mira hitches a ride with a group of friendly college kids who were on her initial flight.

As the drive progresses and weather conditions become more treacherous, Mira realizes that the four other passengers she’s stuck in the car with don’t actually know one another.

Soon, they’re not just dealing with heavy snowfall and ice-slick roads, but the fact that somebody will stop at nothing to ensure their trip ends in a deadly disaster.

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Thank you so much to Edelweiss for the advanced copy of this thrilling novel! I am such a sucker for elevator-script type stories. Ones that stick to mostly one location, forcing the characters together for better or for worse. Sprinkle in the dire and emotional conditions of this road trip, and you’ve got a truly captivating adrenaline rush that you won’t be able to put down. This book you CAN judge by its cover. The staggering view on a lone car in the snow surrounded by the chaotic, blood-red description of the group we will be following for the duration of the narrative is a promise– one that is followed through and sealed with a gut punch.

We meet Mira as she is headed home to spend Christmas with her mom. It’s been a year since her aunt passed away, and she is dealing with grief but also guilt when she finds out that a snowstorm had headed into the area; making most modes of travel halt. Harper, Mira’s seatmate from the plane, decides to rent a car and rounds up a group of stragglers who are all desperate to get to their destinations for very different reasons. Against her better judgement, Mira joins them, and thus embarks on the most harrowing journey of her young life. Together, these five total strangers face not only the storm, but a possible impostor in their midst. It’s a race against time that you can feel, paced by the beating of your own heart.

I was very happy with the pacing of this novel. Many thrillers stretch out a slow burn, which is hit or miss for me. Here, we are introduced to our cast, the setting, and the circumstances and were immediately off to the races. It also kept me guessing the entire time. I had a million different theories about what was happening between these characters and none of them were right. The suspense built beautifully, and as the weather worsened so too did the resolve of our five explorers. Tensions rose higher and higher, culminating in a high stakes last chapter where all hell breaks loose. If you’re looking for something to pull you out of a reading slump, I recommend this book! It will make you hungry for more– and the atmosphere is perfect for December!

5/5 stars