When news of the atrocity reaches wealthy cryptozoologist Richard Severance, he sends a three-person team north to investigate. Not long ago, the members of that team—Ben McKelvie, Lindsay Clark, and Alex Standingcloud—were nearly killed by a vengeful shapeshifter. Now they are walking wounded, haunted by gruesome memories that make normal life impossible. But there is nothing normal about the horror that awaits in the Northwoods.
Although Northwoods is a follow up to The Beast of Barcroft with many of the same characters, it works well as a standalone story, too. The author weaves in just enough background information and history from the previous book to bring readers up to speed quickly.
When I first stumbled across Northwoods, I almost didn’t bother with it because the promotional copy at the beginning of the blurb (not included above) started out with “Fans of Stephen King…” which I usually hate because Stephen King is in a class by himself. With all due respect to Mr. Schweigart, I just don’t think it’s a good idea for authors to be comparing their work to one of the all-time most successful writers in the history of literature.
All that said, the characters, storytelling and plot did actually feel a bit King-ish. A destitute, homeless man’s King, but that’s still pretty damn high praise. The characters and dialogue felt genuine with just the right mix of humor and personality. The story moved at a brisk pace with numerous mini-cliffhangers at the end of chapters making it hard to put down. The action got a bit chaotic at times but never enough to derail the story entirely.
As for the supernatural element, it was a bit unusual but also original. Unlike some books in the horror genre, there wasn’t a lot of wasted time providing a detailed explanation for the how and why of the creature’s existence. Personally, I’m okay with that approach. As long as I have a basic understanding of what they are and how they fit into the story, I’m good with that. I don’t need to get bogged down in long, drawn out origin stories.
In the end, I have to concede that Northwoods really is a good fit for Stephen King fans. It’s a fun, fast-paced and highly entertaining read. Just as long as they’re not expecting the same ridiculously high standards as the unquestioned master of the genre.
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