#1 in the Ancient Enemy series
Published 21st September 2013
My rating: ⭐ ⭐
Stella is an archaeologist, she’s been working at an Anasazi dig site and is now on the run with a young Navajo boy named David. What they’re running from is something Ancient, something that may have been responsible for the disappearance of the Anasazi people, and now it’s after them. While they’re on their way to what they hope is a safe place, they are intercepted by four men who are responsible for holding up a bank nearby. High-jacking Stella’s truck, they travel until they come across a cabin in the middle of nowhere. Now the six of them must spend the night as severe weather is on it’s way. Stopping has allowed the thing chasing Stella and David to catch up, and now these bank robbers are also involved. What follows is nights of horror as they learn what this thing is capable of. Will they survive?
I was super excited to read this one as I love supernatural horror, and I especially love it if it has ties to archeological digs or ancient sites, I like to call is Archaeological horror and I’m dying to find more books that fit this genre. However, I couldn’t help but be a little bit disappointed in what I got.
I was super intrigued by this story because the synopsis mentions a far bit about the Anasazi people who disappeared mysteriously, and I thought this was going to be great because we’d dive into this and it would be peppered with supernatural horror and I was just so ready for it, especially having come off the back of reading The Ruins by Scott Smith. There was some mention of the Anasazi people and the possible tie that this ancient evil has to them and their disappearance, but it was only kind of a minor appearance and some mentions of David and things that happen while they’re trapped in the cabin, I had the misconception that this would be a bigger talking point in the book than what it was, and I’m not gonna lie, I was disappointed with this.
I’m normally a fan of books or movies that take place in one location over a short span of time – think House on Haunted Hill, or Saw 2 – this however I found lackluster and I considered DNFing a fair few times, the only thing that kept me going was that it’s a relatively short book and I was already half way through, so I just kept pushing on. The story line gets rather repetitive and the pacing was just a bit off. Also the narration of the book just wasn’t great, I’m sorry to say. Below are some examples of the writing that just made it a hard slog:
“Trevor set his coffee cup down on the counter and looked at the cabin door. He looked back at Stella and David who stared at the cabin door. Even Needles tore his attention away from whatever daydream his damaged mind was stumbling around inside of and looked at the door.”
“He grabbed the door handle which wasn’t rattling anymore, like the person (Trevor) on the other side, was waiting for him to open”
In one sentence “He managed to tear about the dining room table.” in the following paragraph “the upended the dining room table and shoved it against the entrance to the hallway”
“The ax hit the front door again and again. It had already nearly split the door right down the middle; the door was barely hanging in the doorway by the door handle and the hinges”
These are just a few examples of the narration that I had trouble with. There’s a lot of repetition of words and actions, like the gun in the waistband of the pants, and the reiteration of the layout of the bathroom. As well as the few instances I came across where mid sentence, there is either a name or object in brackets during the paragraph. I feel like this book needed a couple of rounds with a really good editor to just iron out the kinks and make it flow a bit more naturally.
The idea of the story was great, I just felt like it wasn’t really given enough thought or depth in order for it to turn into what it could have been. When I finished this one, I realised it’s actually the start of a series. Part of me wanted to continue to see if we got more answers, because in all honesty, we didn’t get answers to any of the questions raised from this first instalment. I just couldn’t fathom sitting through the rest of the books if their narration was going to be the same as this one, as it was not enjoyable.
Horror is such a hard genre because everyone has their own ideas on what makes horror. There was some gratuitous gore in this which I think lead to the horror aspect, but not for me. Gore doesn’t phase me, but what I want from a horror is to feel isolated, alone, hopeless and downright terrified, and this just didn’t give me any of that at all, unfortunately. I didn’t really find this story scary in the slightest. I think if the Ancient evil was more developed and did more than just make people do horrible things, I would have liked it more.
All in all, this story had great potential, but I just feel like it didn’t live up to what it could have been. Heavier editing and more fleshing out of the ideas and more mention of the Anasazi people would have been awesome. Don’t take my word for it though, if you like horror, give it a go, you might enjoy it.