Title: The Haunted Forest Tour
Author: Jeff Strand and James A. Moore
Date of publication: February 17th 2017
Number of pages: 270
Bram Stoker Award nominees James A. Moore (BLOOD RED) and Jeff Strand (PRESSURE) join forces for this 87,000-word action-packed, gore-drenched monster extravaganza.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Haunted Forest Tour!
Sit back and enjoy a smooth ride in air-conditioned comfort as your heavily armored tram takes you through nature’s most astonishing creation. The forest is packed to capacity with dangerous and terrifying creatures of all shapes, sizes, and hunger levels, and you’ll get to observe these wonders in complete safety.
Howl with a werewolf! Gaze into the glowing eyes of a giant spider! Look right through a spooky ghost! See horrific monsters you couldn’t even imagine, only inches away from you! Things with fangs, things with claws, things with dripping red jaws—you’ll see them all!
Not thrilling enough? Well, it’s Halloween, and so we’re offering a very special tour through the Haunted Forest. The new route goes deeper into the woods than any civilians have ventured before, and you’re guaranteed to get a good scare! Rest assured that every possible security precaution has been taken. The Haunted Forest Tour has a 100% safety record, and technical difficulties are unheard of. You will be in no danger whatsoever.
Wimp. Wuss. Squeamish. All those words apply to me. I’ve been screaming it since I started blogging, the horror genre is NOT my thing.
I can do serial killers, which is weird because here, the monsters are real! But give me a Stephen King and it’ll rekindle the terror that grasped me when I picked Pet Sematary. I used to love this book until I reread it at 18 and was horrified. Not just because of the cat’s smell!
So when my beloved sadistic teacher / friend Lilyn from Scifi&Scary asked me buddy read a book with her, I froze. Would it be a scifi or a scary? Well, as a very caring person, she had taken upon herself to make me face my fears with a scary book! Here’s the why I started… The Haunted Forest Tour!
Before starting, I had recollection of some very scary moments in the Tom Gordon book from King (him again!) and I thought “Hm, a forest. A haunted forest. Who the hell would pay for such a tour? If I want a scary sight, I just have to look at my bills!”
I survived the prologue. In fact, I did more than that. I chuckled. The writing was kind of fun. I had no benchmark here so I relied solely on my feelings to judge what I was reading and… It was not so bad. A light tone, nice quotes…
We’ll discuss this on Monday… It was the adult equivalent of “wait until your father gets home.”
I learned about characters. Some I hated right away. Yes, I’m talking about you, Mark! Some I pitied, some were fun. I tried to keep my guard up because I’m not naive, I knew those people weren’t introduced for the sake of it. They were the meat ready to be eaten!
At first, I had difficulties understanding the phenomenon that we were told about, before my head had an epiphany and the pieces of the puzzle got together!
“Oh, sweet Jesus in a minivan, it’s happening again!”
I started to relax when the first deaths appeared. How weird, right? I mean, I’m not all happy when people get smashed by trees or knocked over, but hey, something chose a Fox News reporter to kill! I kinda liked the thing that did it. That says a lot about what I think about Fox News…
Back to the point. This book is filled with blood. Oh yes. But not in a creepy way. More in an interesting and flesh-angry way. The author has a very again “fun” way of killing off his characters and the monsters themselves, although I wouldn’t like to be stuck with them, were more nice to get to know than scary. I loved discovering them as heads were decapitated, hearts were being wrenched out of chests, teeth were lost, as well as other body parts.
“I did not sign up for this, I just wanted to kill some goddamned terrorists!”
Now off to the characters. Obviously, I couldn’t help but find favorites, pray the bookish Gods I wasn’t jinxing their chances by doing so because usually, as soon as I like a protagonist, they die a painful death. Everyone stayed the same throughout the story. The smartass, the ass, the wise, the scared, the wife… And everyone, I really mean everyone, had at least one quote that made me laugh, even during the bloodiest parts! Those regular humans (well, as regular as humans who decide to go into an haunted forest goes) all had their tongue very sharp and I believe that’s what made the difference for me. It was not just horror. It was fun horror. It was punch lines versus creatures, deadpan humor against dead bodies! I stopped counting my “Yikes!!!!!” and just enjoyed the ride in the safety of my home.
“The picture wasn’t perfect but, but it was clear enough to make his skin crawl and his testicles try to find a safe place to hide themselves.”
Yep. The entire book is quotable. I enjoyed every part so much that I have a hard time sorting this one into the horror genre. Of course, I know it’s cheesy, or “light” horror, but it’s a miracle I agreed to read it. What’s even harder to believe is that I couldn’t tear myself away from the book! I was absolutely hooked by the atmosphere and the events. I even found MY quote!
“If it was too tough for Winnie the Pooh, she wanted nothing to do with it.”
This book was written for me! See??
I better stop quoting how or you won’t have any surprises when you pick this book. I urge you to do so when you need something different, something horror without the creepy horror, something to laugh at and be disgusted at, something to have a little Halloween time with!
The plot was realistic and strong enough for me to not feel the need to roll my eyes, the characters were awesome at what they were supposed to do (mostly die…) and the writing made me laugh so much I forgot I was supposed to be scared. So if you want a die-hard scary thing, pick something else, but if you want a slice of monsters and a hell of a good time, please, get on the train!
A massive thank you to my dear friend, my lovely sadistic teacher, my pusher of boundaries, Lilyn, for getting me on the tour!