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So Cold the River

It starts with a beautiful woman and a challenge. As a gift for her husband, Alyssa Bradford approaches Eric Shaw to make a documentary about her father-in-law, Campbell Bradford, a 95-year-old millionaire whose past is wrapped in mystery. Eric grabs the job even though there are few clues to the man’s story—just the name of his hometown and an antique water bottle he’s kept his entire life.

In Bradford’s hometown, Eric discovers an extraordinary history—a glorious domed hotel where movie stars, presidents, athletes, and mobsters once mingled, and mineral springs whose miraculous waters were reputed to cure everything from insomnia to malaria. Neglected for years, the resort has been restored to its former grandeur just in time for Eric’s stay.

Just hours after his arrival, Eric experiences a frighteningly vivid vision. As the days pass, the frequency and intensity of his hallucinations increase and draw Eric deeper into the area’s dark history. He discovers that something besides the historic resort town has been restored—a long-forgotten evil that will stop at nothing to regain its lost glory. Brilliantly imagined and terrifyingly real, So Cold the River is a tale of irresistible suspense with a racing, unstoppable current.

Audio Excerpt


"...a superior specimen, with its eerie tale of a lovely valley in Indiana where at one time an elixir known as Pluto Water bubbled up from the underground springs...Koryta sets a beautiful scene, resplendent with dreamy images of phantom railroad trains and ghosts who wear bowler hats and play the violin."

—The New York Times

"An edgy, seat-of-your-pants thriller with a supernatural edge that's set in an immaculately restored grand old hotel in the Midwest."

—Entertainment Weekly

"Horror runs through this tale of evil set at a once-famous resort."

—USA Today

"Spellbinding and check-your-doors-and-windows scary...deliciously creepy..."

—Amazon, Best Books of June

"[So Cold the River] ...dives headlong into supernatural territory—so much so that after finishing the book I cast a suspicious eye on the water bottle on the nearby night-table, an unspoken admonition not to drink it sounding off loudly in my mind."

—Los Angeles Times

"Intellectually stimulating...nail-biting...spine chilling...will leave you out of breath..."

—The Huffington Post

"A cataclysmic finale will put readers in mind of some of the best recent works of supernatural horror, among which this book ranks."

—Publishers Weekly STARRED Review

"...Koryta has ventured into genre-bending, successfully melding thriller elements to a horror story that recalls Stephen King."


"A mysterious antique water bottle, a town reluctant to let go of old connections to fame and infamy, hallucinations and a resurgent evil combine to bring readers a gripping chiller that will keep them guessing - and looking under the covers - until the last page...Fans of horror and supernatural suspense will enjoy [Koryta's] latest, and darkest, work yet."

—Library Journal

"A departure from Koryta's Lincoln Perry p.i. series that's every bit as well-written."

—Kirkus Review

"This book builds like a summer storm. Beautiful to watch until it shakes the house and knocks out the lights, leaving you alone in the dark. Another masterful work from Michael Koryta, So Cold The River is guaranteed to put the cold finger down your spine."

—Michael Connelly, author of 9 Dragons and The Brass Verdict

"An icy, terrifying winner. So Cold the River puts an October chill in your blood by the end of the first chapter. It's not much longer before you've turned on all the lights and rechecked all the window locks. Few novelists warrant mention alongside Stephen King or Peter Straub. Michael Koryta, however, earns comparison to both."

—Dennis Lehane, author of Mystic River and Shutter Island

"Michael Koryta is a gifted storyteller. His writing reminded me of the great Ruth Rendell—eerie, suspenseful, and pleasantly wicked. If you're looking for a dose of Midwestern Gothic at its best, So Cold The River will be just the thing for you."

—Scott Smith, author of A Simple Plan and The Ruins

"So Cold the River is a great story, but what held me was the lean, clean prose and the sharp presentation of scenes and dialogue. Michael Koryta is a good storyteller and a wonderful stylist."

—Joe R. Lansdale, author of The Bottoms

"Koryta's So Cold The River is an example of the good-writing equals good-reading equation that makes fright-inducing fiction worthy of our time, attention, and real enjoyment."

—Dan Simmons, author The Terror and Drood

"Fast-paced and action-packed, So Cold The River is good, unclean fun. Like Joe Hill, Michael Koryta is infusing the old-school supernatural horror novel with new blood. Drink up!"

—Stewart O'Nan, author of A Prayer for the Dying and The Night Country

“Reminiscent of The Shining, complete with creepy hotel.”

—Teresa Budasi, Chicago Sun-Times

“Certain people are born to tell stories. They can effortlessly move between genres, time periods and settings. Inventing new characters while also reinventing fan favorites. They can work within the rubber band confines of a series, or branch out into stand alone works, across multiple bandwiths…. So Cold the River is a breathtaking departure from Koryta's crime novels, upping the plotting and characterization skills that Koryta has displayed through five books…The result is a gripping, terrifying, and sometimes astonishing read.”

—Jason Pinter, Huffington Post

“[SO COLD THE RIVER is] gripping…. a thriller you'll want to ease into before the page-turning ending takes over.”

—Jodi N. González, The Austin American Statesman

“A sly, entirely believable tale about greed, disenchantment, class and the shadows of the past encroaching on the present.”

—Rege Behe, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

“So Cold the River is a clever, smartly paced supernatural suspense novel that is difficult to put down.”

—David Gutowski,

“…the author of first-rate Midwest-set mysteries…swigs from the fount of Stephen King with SO COLD THE RIVER — much of the story takes place in a resort hotel á la The Shining…creepy...B”

—Entertainment Weekly

“…[an] engaging supernatural thriller… the material is so fresh and the characters so appealing that my interest never flagged. After reading it, I'm sticking to good old D.C. tap water.”

—The Washington Post

“…Horror is where you find it, in this case, southern Indiana, not far from Michael Koryta's alma mater, Indiana University.”

—Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“…jumps with assurance and remarkable skill into Stephen King territory…[Koryta] can do spooky scenes…but he's equally deft at depicting natural disasters, such as the storm that blows in at the climax of the novel, wreaking havoc in ways that sometimes seem random and other times intentional… he knows how to ratchet up suspense and construct a plot that builds unstoppable momentum. SO COLD THE RIVER has enough chills to make it a perfect summer read and enough substance to engage the mind after the season has ended.”

—Columbus Dispatch

"It's a fast, eerie chiller of a book that will make you shiver in the sun."

—Parade Magazine

“So Cold the River has mystery, for sure, but it's mainly a paranormal horror story in the Stephen King mold — and a chilling one…Koryta has a deft touch with his characters, sketching them economically but convincingly; the chapters from the point of view of Anne are especially insightful about the joys and pains of aging. His lean style powers the plot of So Cold the River, which rises as powerfully as the strange green water of an underground river that may hide the secrets Eric seeks. If you need something to chill you on a steamy summer weekend, pick up So Cold the River. But don't drink the water.”

—St. Petersburg Times

"...spooky...As a Hoosier with a keen sense of the hotel’s history, Mr. Koryta has worked backward to concoct an eerie narrative and used the place for the basis of his own personal version of “The Shining…“So Cold the River” does its best to deliver a King-size dose of scary…Mr. Koryta leaves his readers with the hint of a sequel and the feeling that his premise hasn’t run dry.”

—Janet Maslin, New York Times

“…chilling…Michael Koryta's novel is being compared to the writings of Stephen King and Peter Straub. He lives up to the comparison in this dark novel.”

—Carol Memmott, USA Today