It was supposed to be a harmless camping trip. Six wayward teenagers who'd run into trouble with the law, and their court-appointed guardians, Sara and Martin Randhurst. Three nights on a small, deserted island off of Michigan's upper peninsula. A time to bond, to learn, to heal. Then Martin told a campfire story about the island's history. Of the old civil war prison hidden in there, and the starving confederate soldiers who resorted to cannibalism to stay alive. Everyone thought it was funny. They even laughed when Martin pretended to be dragged off into the woods. But Martin didn't come back. And neither did Sara when she went in search of him. Then the laughter stopped.
The group soon began to realize that this deserted island wasn't so deserted after all. And perhaps Martin's ridiculous story had more truth to it than anyone thought. What's the most horrifying thing you can imagine? This is a hundred times worse...
***This book is part of a series of books. Each of the first three stories Afraid, Trapped and Endurance are standalone reads along with the books The List and Origin by JA Konrath (same author) but characters of each book are all in #6 Haunted House together.***
Martin and Sara run a residential centre for troubled kids which is about to close, bringing an end to their marriage as well, just after the birth of their baby. They decide to take the kids on a final camping trip to an island on Lake Huron. Martin starts telling a campfire story about cannibals during the Civil War and then vanishes into the bushes. Annoyance turns to fear when they realise that Martin is gone and his story might actually be true...
First lets look at the characters. Sara is the mother of the group who cares about the kids and feels that her marriage has fallen apart because Martin can't deal with the centre being closed down. The couple have a new baby and Sara has to decide on this trip whether or not to sign the divorce papers. Georgia is a sociopath with a hatred for Sara, the one person she has not convinced with her innocent act and she is determined to get revenge on her. Tom has ADHD and is on regulated medicine, Tyrone and Meadow are reformed gang members, Cindy is a reformed meth addict and Laneesha was caught stealing to feed the baby that she wants to get back from the authorities. Now usually I hate books with this kind of 'bad' cast but I quickly grew to like all but Tom and Georgia, as each is seen to have good qualities and are trying to turn their lives around.
And here they are on this camping trip from hell. They have mixed reactions to Martin telling the scary campfire story and when he vanishes, they all believe that he is playing a trick on them. Sara in particular is annoyed by the stunt but when she and Laneesha go to look for them, the darkness and no sign of Martin becomes unsettling. Cindy persuades Georgia to leave the campfire to go to the toilet but Georgia sees an opportunity to scare a few people with a trick. Meadow sees someone watching the rest of them from the dark trees and decides to challenge them despite his fear. Tom is now off his meds and losing control of himself. When Sara finds Martin bound, gagged and hanging from a tree, it becomes clear that there is something on the island that endangers them all.
I don't want to say much more about the plot details as there are a lot of great things that I wouldn't want to spoil. Basically there are two adults, a baby and six teenagers all running around in the dark trying to avoid an assortment of bad guys while trying to find each other and a way off the island. There is a shedload of tension in the early stages of the book as they all wander around with no clue of what they are up against and what is hunting them. I liked the fact that it only takes a few pages of introducing the characters before we are right into Martin telloing his story and vanishing. There is no waffle or taking forever to get into it. All other information on the characters is given as the story progresses, which was good.
There is a nice subplot taking place with Lester and those who are in the prison, including a prisoner held there who likes to do his own torture experiments and needs someone new to try his latest toy on. Lester and the others are all part of a series of experiments by your typical mad professor who wants to perfect his new work and enhance humans into psychos that he can control. I absolutely loved the introduction of Lester and the rest of the horrors at the prison! It added a whole new element to the story along with the cannibals.These are very scary bad guys but they had good depth to them, which made them fascinating to read about. The campers picked the wrong island to visit...
By the time the cannibals get their hands on the first victim, the gore is beginning! The descriptions of the torture of several victims is not for the nervous and there are worse than the cannibals out in the woods. There is Lester and his camera, who comes from the old prison of horrors on the island, and he is looking to take a few playmates back with him...Cannibals, torture, gore and tension along with some interesting characters make this another great horror tale from this author. I loved Afraid, Trapped and his co-written book Draculas and I'm really looking forward to reading the rest of these books!
Read May 2017