Published Black Owl Books (20th August 2018)
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My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Eileen Hershberger has gone missing. She’s lost in the Ashlough Forest near Helmer, everyone fears the worst. Five days later, her camera washes up downriver, and there are some strange photographs on it. Photos that were taken in the dark, with no apparent subject to be focused on, except there is a strange anomaly in some of the photographs. Chris Hershberger, Eileen’s brother is determined to believe that she is still alive, so he sets out with three friends to find her. As prepared as they were, nothing could have prepared them for the horror lurking in Ashlough Forest. Something is stalking them, is it human or something not quite human? Is Eileen still alive? Will they survive?
I love a good horror story about cryptids, especially when said story is set in a location such as a forest (hello the Ritual, I’m looking at you), so this was a no brainer when I came across it, quickest purchase ever! I really enjoyed this story, it was completely gripping and an absolute page turner that kept me wanting more. It was hard to put it down and I found myself thinking about it constantly when I wasn’t reading it.
Written in third person, this story first opens following Eileen as she’s running from some unseen being that is stalking her and has been for a while now. We are left unsure of what exactly Eileen’s fate is. We are introduced to a character names Todd who was INCREDIBLY unlikable from the minute we meet him. He’s obsessive, possessive, overbearing and believes that he is better than EVERYBODY else around him. Next we meet a detective by the name of Carla Delago, she is also incredibly unlikable when we meet her, however, as the story progressed I really loved the character growth that we saw as well as the development. This was a character that I deadset thought I was going to hate, and I could not understand why Coates would write a detective that had a fair pivotal role in this story in such a way, but honestly, when everything came together, it made TOTAL sense. Chris, Flint, Hailey and Anna were very likable characters, even though they may have been a little bit cliche, it honestly worked for them and for the story. The story jumps between the group and Carla the most, and this keeps it moving at a steady pace while also giving the story a very rounded out feeling.
The story was well thought out and executed even if there were some cliches and rather unbelievable things that happened, it still came out as a great read, and I found myself kinda wishing that it was a movie, because I would watch the HELL out of it if it was.
One downfall in the story was, as it felt like it was reaching it’s climax, everything all of a sudden just dropped off and was solved and fixed and over. I still felt like there were things that needed to happen, and everything was kind of just tied up in a nice, neat little bow and taken care of. The story just seemed to abruptly stop with the action and it’s like a little screen card was held up saying “THE NEXT DAY”. I have to admit I was disappointed by this, as well as by the big reveal of the presence in the forest. I had a feeling early on that I had figured it out, but I dismissed it because I felt like it was too easy, however, I will admit that I was surprised, because I honestly didn’t think that’s what everything would turn out to be, which was a bit disappointing. Hence the downrate.
All in all though, this was a compelling, page turner of a thriller/suspense/horror read and I enjoyed it thoroughly. If you love a good horror story that has supernatural/paranormal/evil cryptid bits in it, give this one a go!