Review of Brian Moreland’s “The Devil’s Woods”
The Devil’s Woods is Brian Moreland’s second foray into the mysteries of the Canadian wilderness and Native American mythology. His first book, Dead of Winter explored darkness in Ontario from the 19th Century, while The Devil’s Woods explores deviltry in the 21st century out west, in an abandoned Cree Indian Reservation and the nearby town of Hagen’s Cove, which has been a place where people, especially young girls, have been disappearing for over a century without a trace.
Kyle Elkheart, a half-Cree horror novelist living in Seattle who grew up on the reservation, is called home by his uncle and grandfather. His brother Eric and his sister Shawna are the last surviving members of their tribe and their estranged professor father went missing weeks earlier after having spent time exploring the Cree lands-deep into the forbidden woodlands that surround the reservation. Kyle is reluctant at first, but needs a vacation from the nightmares that haunt him every night and the visions of his deceased wife, who passed away two years prior. The lands surrounding their homeland are beautiful though, and Kyle is pleased he is able to make the trip and hopefully get out of the funk surrounding his writing. He is bothered by the fact that he is attracted to Eric’s pretty girlfriend, who has joined them on the trip, and that he seems to be the only person concerned about the disappearance of their father. He sees walking visions of the dead on the reservation and is warned in no uncertain terms by his uncle about the evil that lurks in the woodlands, but suspects that his father may still be out there, uncovering some of the oddities that have caused this region of the country to be dubbed the Canadian Bermuda Triangle.
Every day and every hour seems to reveal bits and pieces of the mystery, especially when a family that has come searching for another member of Kyle’s father’s missing expedition goes missing themselves. There are perhaps monstrous creatures that live within the woods which haunts Cree folklore, but that is not the only evil that Kyle and his family must confront if they are to survive their trip into the Canadian Wilderness.
The Devil’s Woods is another solidly written horror yarn by Brian Moreland, who does an excellent job of crafting believable tales of the supernatural. My favorite of his was his first book, Dead of Winter, and this novel follows in its murky, grim footsteps with demonic glee. The author isn’t afraid to spill some blood and craft horribly wicked creatures that feel like they stepped right out of ancient myth and legend. The evil in this book is quite malevolent while the character development is also solid. The characters, for the most part, are believable and their actions are very plausible. I was perhaps not sold on some elements of the burgeoning romance that Kyle is starting to have with his brother’s girlfriend, but while it felt somewhat predictable it still fit in well with the telling of tale.
The story offers up a few good twists that will keep most readers on their feet and a solid, well-paced supernatural story that is both fun and satisfyingly gruesome. The author’s storytelling abilities always make it a pleasure to return to the sick passages of his twisted mind and this tale was no exception. I look forward to what Brian dreams up next.
The Devil’s Woods can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/The-Devils-Woods-Brian-Moreland/dp/1619215659/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1388021906&sr=1-1