Cold Water Forest: Fredrick Niles
Reviewed By Steve Stred
Look, for all my bluster of being a regimented reader who follows his listed TBR, every once in a while I get impulsive and “just go for it.”
Case in point – ‘Cold Water Forest.’
Not so long ago, I purchased Niles ‘The Omen Tree,’ (which is actually scheduled on my TBR next), but when I saw yesterday that he had ‘Cold Water Forest’ as a free Kindle deal, I grabbed a copy. Then, on Goodreads, I saw (at the time of reading) that it only had 5 ratings and 1 review. At just over 100 pages, I knew I could read it easily in a single sitting, so I did. I dove in last night and was richly rewarded for this impulsive decision.
What I liked: Having never read anything by Niles before, I must say, he’s a gifted storyteller. ‘Cold Water Forest’ follows Kelsey and her daughter, who essentially kidnap Kelsey’s mom and retreat to hide out in their old family cabin near Cold Water Forest.
It’s been many years since Kelsey has been there, so she’s not heard the stories, the lore surrounding the lake and the trees and the cabin itself. Niles uses that also to the reader’s advantage, slowly adding in little details, little moments that amplify the uncertainty of what lurks out there and why there are odd things in the cabin.
I thought Kelsey was an engaging and solid character, she’s overcoming significant loss as well as financial hardship and trying to do what she can for her mother and daughter. Her daughter was an interesting character and I thought the dynamic between them was really well done.
The ending was really intriguing and created so many questions while also answering so many I had.
What I didn’t like: I wasn’t too sure of the grandma’s history with the cabin. We get some hints and snippets, but I wish there was a bit more shared. And I personally thought the two main discoveries in the basement were ultimately underutilized.
Why you should buy this: This was a really engaging read, one that had me frantically reading, wanting to know what was going to happen and when a severe storm arrived, Niles did a great job of really amplifying the craziness of the place.
This was really enjoyable and now, I’ll be diving into ‘The Omen Tree.’
Cold Water Forest
The old Norris cabin sits quiet and abandoned in the heart of the Cold Water Forest. Town locals know the area by reputation, passing stories of the place between themselves on cool, summer nights. But now the season is changing, sending the rats that infest the surrounding woodlands scurrying into their holes.
Broke and desperate, Kelsey Fletcher flees along with her elderly mother and pensive daughter to the only place left available to them. She hasn’t heard the stories, hasn’t been caught out in the swamp when the sun goes down and all the strange things of the world come crawling out. Even so, the family cabin of her childhood feels oddly different and as the days go by an overwhelming sense of dread begins to descend upon them.
From the author of The Omen Tree comes a story soaked in grief and brooding atmosphere. Cold Water Forest is a journey into that liminal state one often finds themselves in as their world gets turned upside down. And once the terrain has shifted, it can be nearly impossible to find the way back.
Steve Stred is the Splatterpunk Nominated Author of ‘Sacrament’ and ‘Mastodon.’
Based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Steve has released over a dozen novels and novellas as well as a number of collections. He has appeared alongside some of horror’s biggest names within some truly excellent anthologies.
He is a proud co-founder of the LOHF Writer’s Grant and an Active Member of the HWA.