Boy In The Box: Marc E. Fitch
Reviewed By Steve Stred
Thanks to Netgalley and Flametree Press for letting me check this one out.
The cover and the synopsis intrigued me when I requested this one. Then some time went by and when I dove in, I’d almost completely forgotten what this one was even about.
This thing is a demented showcase of why I love manic stories set in the woods. For me, personally, there is no creepier place than uninhabited, unexplored densely wooded areas.
The majority of this story is set in Coombs Gulch and boy was the wilderness a character all on its own.
What I liked: This book had so much of everything I love in a horror story. Heart, soul, shock, creeps and downright scary sections. The book opens with four adult males, going on a hunting trip. During that trip they can feel that something isn’t quite right with the area, but they drink and have fun and enjoy their time together. Of course, this wouldn’t be the book it becomes if they didn’t decide to go hunting at night and something horrible happens.
It’s from here that Fitch begins to have the group unravel. I loved how realistic it felt. The weight of guilt and sorrow eating and festering at each of the men’s minds. Trying to be husbands, fathers, colleagues, when all the while their minds are miles away, thinking of something they buried in Coombs Gulch.
This story had some of the most unnerving moments I’ve read in some time. It’s really hard to not gush about those moments specifically without playing total spoiler jerk, but wow, Fitch has a whole other level of making you think twice about reading this book late at night.
What I didn’t like: The only reason this wasn’t a five star read for me was the moments of excess. There are a number of areas where it just felt like the random descriptions of work and daily life went on and on. Too much extra. If those were tightened up then it would have been a five star. When the story centres on the men and when they are in the forest, it’s a page-turner and you feel like you have to remind yourself to breathe. When it’s describing money issues or work difficulties, it was tough to stay engaged.
Why you should buy this: Again, some of this is impossible to fully state without playing spoilers, but as the story unravels and things tie back around and get connected, it just hummed along. If you like super creepy wooded horror with creatures, bumps in the night and psychological unravelling, you’re in for a treat. I suspect many people may compare this to The Ritual by Nevill, and while I’ve seen the movie but still haven’t read the book (I know!), I would say the comparison is close but different. Similar feelings at times, but most books will have that when set in the woods.
Overall, I had a blast with this one. This appears to be Fitch’s debut novel and if it’s any indication of what we are in for in the coming years, I can’t wait to buy my ticket for this ride.
Boy In The Box
Ten years ago a mysterious and tragic hunting accident deep in the Adirondack Mountains left a boy buried in a storied piece of land known as Coombs Gulch and four friends with a terrible secret.
Now, Jonathan Hollis and brothers Michael and Conner Braddick must return to the place that changed their lives forever in order to keep their secret buried. What they don’t realize is that they are walking into a trap one set decades earlier by a supernatural being who is not confined by time or place: a demon that demands a sacrifice.
Steve Stred writes dark, bleak horror fiction.
Steve is the author of three novels, a number of novellas and four collections.
He is proud to work with the Ladies of Horror Fiction to facilitate the Annual LOHF Writers Grant.
Steve is also a voracious reader, reviewing everything he reads and submitting the majority of his reviews to be featured on Kendall Reviews.
Steve Stred is based in Edmonton, AB, Canada and lives with his wife, his son and their dog OJ.
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