Algonquin Books 2015

        • “Outstanding . . . The days when you had to choose between a great story and a great piece of writing? Gone.”

          Esquire Magazine

          “Johnston has a poet’s eye for the majestic and forbidding nature of the Rockies, and a . . . knack for creating characters that the reader will come to care about, no matter how flawed they are. Combining domestic drama with wilderness adventure, Johnston has created a hybrid novel that is as emotionally satisfying as it is viscerally exciting.”  Publishers Weekly, starred review

          “A compelling thriller that is both creepy and literary . . . Descent is not just a mystery. It is an emotional story of evil, fear, acceptance and irony.”   The Denver Post

          “The exquisitely suspenseful novel is delivered by Xe Sands, whose intimate, anguished voice supplies Caitlin’s and her mother’s points of view, and R.C. Bray, who gives us her brother and father in gritty, dogged tones . . . the tension rising at each hand-over, making this the novel to listen to for shortening a tiresome journey.”  — Washington Post [PDF]

          “I’ve read many variations on this theme, some quite good, but never one as powerful as Tim Johnston’s Descent . . . The story unfolds brilliantly, always surprisingly, but the glory of Descent lies not in its plot but in the quality of the writing. The magic of his prose equals the horror of Johnston’s story; each somehow enhances the other . . . Read this astonishing novel. It’s the best of both worlds.”  — Washington Post

          “This is much more than your typical thriller. Tim Johnston has written a book that makes Gone Girl seem gimmicky. It’s a thriller plus . . . Lucky for us, Tim Johnson is an excellent writer. You want to set this one down so you can take a breath, and keep reading–all at the same time.”  Alan Cheuse, NPR’s “All Things Considered”

          “Tim Johnston’s high-wire literary thriller . . . will leave you gasping.”  Vanity Fair

          “The horror of the situation and the power of the writing come together to create something wholly unique, with echoes of Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones [and] the beautiful prose of Ron Rash . . . A frightening but also life-affirming read thanks to the love, hope, and determination of these wounded, imperfect characters.”  School Library Journal, starred review

          “What makes the novel unforgettable is its sense of character, its deliberate, unadorned prose and Johnston’s unflinching exploration of human endurance, physical and psychological . . . If Johnston writes more books like this, the genre will be all the better for it.”  Miami Herald

          Descent is fluent and big-hearted, both a gripping thriller and a carefully nuanced look at a heartbroken but hopeful family . . . Riveting.”  The Seattle Times

          “Profound and interesting…emotionally resonant . . . What began as the mystery of a disappearance becomes something much more like Shakespearean tragedy . . . Johnston is a meticulous and careful storyteller, a true craftsman . . . An incredibly powerful, richly atmospheric and emotionally complicated novel about the way a family can fall apart, and be put back together again.’’  The Minneapolis Star Tribune [PDF]


          Questions for discussion

          Watch the Polish publisher’s 20-sec video

          Listen to an excerpt of Descent    

          Go to the audiobook page

          See the full paperback book jacket

          New York Times Ad

          Bookseller’s Praise Sheet

          Read an excerpt at

          Read an excerpt on the Algonquin Site

          Descent Online — Collected Links


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