Savages: Greg F. Gifune
Reviewed By Steve Stred
Recently, I’ve been on a bit of a ‘Jungle’ adventure kick. Between the Jungle Cruise movie, the Jumanji movies and recently reading an ARC of Carl John Lee’s newest, ‘Cannibal Vengeance,’ the Amazon and the jungles have been firmly in my path of entertainment and enjoyment.
So, this led me to finding ‘Savages’ by Greg F. Gifune sitting at the top of my TBR, as though the abandoned island inhabitants had sneakily moved it up the list.
One reason I was so happy to see this arrive – my good pal Steven Gomzi LOVES Gifune’s writing and keeps telling me to read his work. And you know what? Steven’s right! Gifune is a fantastic writer.
What I liked: OK, listen to me for one second – if you hate reading jungle-based books because it’ll all be the same, ignore that intuition. Sure, the set-up isn’t anything new (and that’s just absolutely ok!) but it works to get the ball rolling.
A group of friends are on a vacation book ride when a storm hits and they find themselves washed up on a beach of an island that shouldn’t exist. Some have lived, some are hurt, and others didn’t survive. It doesn’t take long before we learn who has survival skills, who doesn’t and how each of the people’s strengths and weaknesses will ultimately be responsible for their fates.
Now, what Gifune does so well here, is that he flips the script on us by not having the trees filled with Indigenous people attacking the foreigners, or crazy creatures lost to history. Instead, we get a plausible discovery with a paranormal outcome and it works so, so very well. I honestly can’t go into too many details, as I wanna let this surprise you like it did me, but when it clicks and comes together it is just phenomenal.
Each character was done so very well, and as things get worse and then even worse, we see their true colors revealed and Gifune holds nothing back.
The writing is crisp and the action is intense. This was so great, I could practically feel the humidity while reading it.
What I didn’t like: Three minor things. At first, it did feel like more of the same and I was worried that we’d end up with a cookie-cutter ‘cannibal’ story. We don’t get that, so hold on. The second thing – one of the characters has a mental breakdown and is caught in a horrible act on the beach by Quinn. I didn’t really see the reason for it needing to happen. Gifune led us there and it made sense, but it just felt a bit unnecessary. And lastly, I almost wish there wasn’t an epilogue. I thought the ending was solid enough to not warrant the last bit, but it did work and this is totally a minor detail I’m being a bit of a knob about haha!
Why you should buy this: Gifune strikes gold here and from page one we see people pushed to their limits and ultimately so far past it, you’ll be amazed to see their character arcs. The true horror of the island was fantastic and had me Googling the real-life history about it and that is saying something.
This is not your typical ‘lost on an island’ book and the reader is all the better for that.
It began as a vacation to the Cook Islands. But when seven friends are lost in the South Pacific after their boat goes down in a storm, they must survive at sea for several days in a small raft. Blown miles off course from their original position, and deep into open waters, they eventually encounter a small uncharted island.
Grateful to be alive, they begin their quest for survival, hopeful they’ll be rescued sooner than later. But the island is not the paradise it appears to be. Instead, it is a place of horror, death, torture and evil, of terrible secrets thought long buried and forgotten.
And they are not alone.
Something guards those horrible secrets, something evil and relentlessly violent, an ancient horror born of rage and vengeance, a blood-crazed predator that lives to kill and will stop at nothing to protect the island from those intruding upon its dark legacy.
The savage is loose, and there is no escape.
SAVAGES, the new novel from Greg F. Gifune
Steve Stred writes dark, bleak fiction.
Steve is the author of a number of novels, novellas and collections.
He is proud to work with the Ladies of Horror Fiction to facilitate the Annual LOHF Writers Grant.
Steve has appeared alongside some of Horror’s heaviest hitters (Tim Lebbon, Gemma Amor, Adrian J. Walker, Ramsey Campbell) in some fantastic anthologies.
He is an active member of the HWA.
He is based in Edmonton, AB, Canada and lives with his wife and son.
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