{Book Review} In The Scrape: James Newman & Mark Steensland

In The Scrape – James Newman & Mark Steensland

Reviewed by Steve Stred

This isn’t how I normally like to start my reviews. But I have to. If you’ve read any of my own books or read any of my interviews, you’ll know that growing up, the woods/forests played a big role in my life and in pretty much all of my releases they play a significant part as well.

When you factor that into what I personally love to read, well, this book was written as though Steensland and Newman wanted to write a book just for Steve the reader. If this was the case – job well done, good sirs.

The team that brought you the horrifyingly awesome ‘The Special’ have returned, but this time we’re dealing with real-life terror. This is a dark, sad tale of two young boys, coming of age under the guidance of an abusive, alcoholic father. They’ve been told their mom didn’t want to be their mom anymore and left when they were little. Now the boys have plotted a plan to buy two tickets and to flee to California to reunite with their mom. This all occurs with the pending start of hunting season. Where they will head to their grandpa’s old hunting cabin.

I read this tale in one sitting and it’s one of those novellas that demands to be devoured. The words flow off the page and as the two authors throw in more back story and a side narrative of bullying, you grow more and more connected to the two boys. Much like in ‘The Special’ the true gift of this story is that you know things are going to get worse. You know that as you keep flipping through the pages that pretty soon the big ‘event’ will occur and forever change how our characters see life.

When this happens, the two authors shine and as the ending unravels and things go from bad to worse, you just keep on holding out hope for those two young boys, because you’ve created that dreaded reader/character bond that so often ends with our reader’s hearts shattered.

One thing I really loved about this story was the inclusion of the epilogue. So often a book ends and that’s it – over and done with. Thankfully the authors offer us some ‘closure.’ Sorry, that’s the best I can do staying spoiler free and trust me, I want to tell you everything that happens here because the events that occur are… just wow.

Two last things I’d like to point out.

The first is that these two authors blend so well together, write so well together that you’d be hard-pressed to figure out if they each wrote a chapter and passed the story back and forth, or if one wrote the basis and the other then re-worked the source material. However it was done – it flows.

The second is that this story lends itself so well to the big screen. I could almost hear the narrator doing voiceover’s at certain parts and with the recent news and info about ‘The Special,’ I wouldn’t be surprised if the authors found themselves with another film based on their work shortly.

This was a heart-breaking, coming-of-age tale that will stay with you for some time.

Star Rating (out of 5): 5*

In The Scrape

Most kids dream about a new bike, a pair of top-dollar sneakers endorsed by their favourite athlete, or that totally awesome videogame everyone’s raving about. But thirteen-year-old Jake and his little brother Matthew want nothing more than to escape from their abusive father. As soon as possible, they plan to run away to California, where they will reunite with their mother and live happily ever after.It won’t be easy, though. After a scuffle with a local bully puts Jake’s arch-nemesis in the hospital, Sheriff Theresa McLelland starts poking her nose into their feud. During a trip to the family cabin for the opening weekend of deer-hunting season, Jake and Matthew kick their plan into action, leaving Dad tied to a chair as they flee into the night. Meanwhile, the bully and his father have their own plans for revenge, and the events to follow will forever change the lives of everyone involved…

You can buy In The Scrape from Amazon UK Amazon US

Steve Stred

Steve Stred is an up-and-coming Dark, Bleak Horror author.

Steve is the author of the novel Invisible, the novellas Wagon Buddy, Yuri and Jane: the 816 Chronicles and two collections of short stories; Frostbitten: 12 Hymns of Misery and Left Hand Path: 13 More Tales of Black Magick, the dark poetry collection Dim the Sun and his most recent release was the coming-of-age, urban legend tale The Girl Who Hid in the Trees.

On June 1st, 2019 his second full-length novel, The Stranger will be welcomed to the world.

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.

You can follow Steve on Twitter @stevestred

You can visit Steve’s Official website here

The Stranger

Ahhh… nothing like the annual summer family camping trip, right?

Malcolm, his wife Sam and their two kids have been staying at the same cabin, at the same campground for years now. Heck, Malcolm’s been coming to the campground since he was a kid.

Miles and miles of groomed trails, hiking, kayaking on the pristine lake. What’s not to like?

But this year… well this year’s different. You see, roof repairs have caused them to have to change their plans. Now they’re staying at the cabin at the end of season, in fact they’re the last campers before it closes for the winter.

While happy to be spending time with the family, Malcolm feels a shift.

The caretaker next door makes it known he hates him.

The trees… move and dance, as though calling him, beckoning him.

Then on a seemingly normal kayaking trip, the family makes a discovery.



Something’s out there, just on the other side of the fence. Malcolm’s positive it’s just the caretaker trying to scare him, teach the family a lesson.

But what if it’s not…

What if there is something out there?

The Stranger is the second novel from Steve Stred and 9th release overall. The Stranger is another offering following in the footsteps of similar books Invisible, YURI and The Girl Who Hid in the Trees. As Steve describes his works; “dark, bleak horror.”

With this release, Steve has decided to look deeper into what makes humans tick. He confronts two key elements of mankind; bigotry and our environmental footprint.

Featuring stunning cover art by Chadwick St. John (www.inkshadows.com), The Stranger will be a story that will leave you feeling uneasy and have you looking at the trees differently.

Maybe it’s not the wind making the branches sway…



The Stranger. 

You can buy The Stranger from Amazon UK Amazon US

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