Northwoods by Bill Schweigart

Northwoods.jpgNorthwoods is the second book I’ve read by Bill Schweigart (the first being the Beast of Barcroft) and I have to say I’m hooked on this series now.  This review may contain spoilers for the first book so please be aware of that and I would also add that although this is a sequel and has characters from the first book I think it could quite easily be read as a standalone.  These books are a great combination of superstition and creepiness and a great cast of characters all charging around at breakneck speed.

The start of the story introduces us to two new characters.  Davis, an ex forces guy who now works for border control and the local sheriff are about to go into the Superior Forest investigating a tip off they’ve received.  What they find there instead is quite chilling.  A scene of death awaits them in the woods – dead bodies and blood soaked snow surround a strange and ancient looking chest that seems to be luring Davis forward.  At the same time Ben McKelvie and Lindsay Clark, who remained friends after the events of Barcroft brought them together, are about to receive a call from Severance seeking their assistance with an investigation that will take them into Minnesota looking for more mythical creatures.

This is a really good, chilling and often times adrenalin soaked read with an excellent ending!

Firstly, the characters.  I really like Bill and Lindsay.  They’ve remained friends – the only ones who can truly understood what horrors took place in Arlington.  They make a good, if somewhat slightly abrasive towards each other, team.  Then we have the other double act in Severance and Alex Standingcloud.  I said after book one that these two were show stealers and that still remains true here although that being said Davis puts in a very good supporting role as well.

The writing is very persuasive, I loved that we had this cold and stark setting that really added to the chill factor and the author can certainly write creepy!  The coldness and the forest and lake settings all added to the tone and I loved the beast that was stalking beneath the water!

In terms of criticisms, nothing really to go to town on. There’s a little bit of crazy going on here in terms of the animals involved, we never really get to the bottom of what exactly the mysterious ‘chest’ is all about – although I’m sure that that’s something that’s being saved for future stories.

But what an ending!  Oh my goodness, I was like ‘oh no’ and ‘oh yes’ and ‘oh no!’ What a thrill ride.  I’m really looking forward to where the author takes us next and what scary critters he can rustle up to give us the goosebumps.

I received a copy of Northwoods courtesy of the publisher through Netgalley for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

 

The Beast of Barcroft by Bill Schweigart

25300888The Beast of Barcroft went in a direction that I wasn’t expecting, in fact, on reflection, I’m not quite sure what I was expecting but whatever it was this surpassed it in many way.

We start the story finding out about the neighbour from hell, Madeleine Roux.  Well, that’s probably a bit of an extreme description but it’s certainly the way her neighbours feel about her.  Madeleine likes to feed the birds and critters.  Unfortunately, as you may know, if you place food outside it doesn’t just attract the soft and fluffy animals that you want – it attracts everything, including vermin, and Barcroft is swiftly becoming overrun. Pull up a pipe in your garden and it will likely be followed out by a slick wave of rats.

Ben McKelvie and his girlfriend have just bought a house in the area.  Little did they suspect that their neighbour would cause them such problems.  Anyway, a long story short, Ben becomes involved in the neighbourly battle to try and stop Madeleine encouraging yet more vermin onto the surrounding properties.  He also suffers a family loss and, having become a bit embittered and grumpy about life in general his girlfriend finally decides enough is enough and leaves.  She at least leaves him with the dog.  Well, about the dog – the problem with all sorts of critters being attracted to the area is that bigger predators follow in their wake and Ben’s dog becomes the victim of a most unlikely predator.

Now, the neighbours are up in arms, the local authority can do very little, the local police seem disinterested at most and Ben, in desperation, enlists the help of a curator from the National Zoo.

I’m not going to go into the plot at all, other than the above.

What we have here is a sneaky story that leads you off down one route, in a very nicely written and plotted way, only to find yourself taking a different fork in the road completely.  I found this fast paced and really quite intriguing not to mention down right creepy as the momentum builds.

The setting is the suburbs. Beyond the immaculate gardens is a strip of woodland with a river running through it – the Four Mile Run Trail.  It all sounds really quite lovely and if it wasn’t for whatever is lurking in the shadows in the woods it probably would be.  Something has come to Bancroft, something evil, something not easily banished, it knows your fears and is stalking in the shadows.

The characters.  Ben, is a little difficult to like at first.  He’s quite abrasive and angry but he does eventually endear himself to you.  Lindsay is quite a likeable character.  Hard working and dedicated to the things she enjoys.  As soon as she finds out about the predator in the neighbourhood she pretty much throws herself into the search putting herself at great risk.  Then we have Richard Severance, a cryptozoologist and his buddy Dr Alex Standing Cloud, who is an expert on Native American studies.  These two are a pair of show stealing characters – I really liked them – they didn’t have a major role but when they put in an appearance you certainly knew about it.

Overall I really enjoyed this.  I found it incredibly creepy although seasoned horror readers would probably find me a little lily livered and take this in their stride, and, it gave me a serious case of the heebee geebies.  I thought the writing was smooth and the author builds the tension really well.  And, let’s not forget the creepy house – it practically exudes menace.

I certainly hope more books are planned!

I received a copy courtesy of the publishers through Netgalley for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.