The Stranger – Steve Stred
Reviewed by Miranda Crites
First of all, I was glad to see The Stranger begins where The Tooth Collector ends. The Tooth Collector was originally included as one of the stories along with Steve’s The Girl Who Hid in the Trees which was released in February. I was excited when I found out the two stories went together!
Malcolm, his wife Sam, and their two adult children are going on their yearly family trip to a campground on a beautiful lake. Malcolm has been visiting the same campground since he was a small child, and his family has continued the tradition by coming every year to the same cabin.
This year, due to some much-needed repairs to the cabin, their usual vacation time has been pushed back to the last days of the season before the campground closes.
Things aren’t like they used to be, nor are they like they should be. Something is different with the campground. The trees seem to be watching Malcolm. And he is not getting along well with the campground host.
During a kayaking trip, the family discovers some precious items, and it seems to have made the forest angry.
Malcolm and the campground host continue to butt heads as Malcolm is set in his ways and believes the host is trying to scare him and his family away. Could the host only be trying to help Malcolm and his family?
The Stranger is out there, and he has a message: YOU TAKE FROM ME, I TAKE FROM YOU.
I had a great time reading this novel. I spend a great deal of time outdoors at a cabin in the woods with my family, so I could see these scenes being played out vividly. I actually read most of this novel at our cabin on my kindle. Being off the grid and reading such a story, and waking in the middle of the night in the dark, made it seem like I could feel the trees moving in. I had to find my Kindle and turn it on one night as a makeshift flashlight to make sure there weren’t trees or other things, especially The Stranger, standing at the foot of my air mattress watching me.
In Steve’s afterword, he shares a photo of an abstract piece of “art” on a fire ring that inspired The Stranger. I love hearing about how stories are created and where they’ve come from. I also found it really interesting because we had an abstract image on our fire ring, too, but ours was a creepy goat.
Thanks so much to Steve Stred for providing me with an eARC of 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.
YOU TAKE FROM ME
I TAKE FROM YOU
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…
Miranda Crites is a reader, book reviewer, photographer, writer, and lover of horror from the ghostly woods of rural West Virginia. Miranda has always enjoyed reading, photography, and writing. She received her first camera as a gift when she was nine years old. The writing bug bit her at a very early age. She won the young writers’ contest in first grade and never stopped writing.
You can follow Miranda on Instagram Miranda_C_rites
Follow Miranda on Twitter @Miranda_C_rites
You can find out more about Miranda via her website www.mirandacritesreadsandwrites.com