Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Haunted Forest Tour! Sit back and enjoy a smooth ride in air-conditioned comfort as your heavily armored tram takes you through nature's most astonishing creation. The forest is packed to capacity with dangerous and terrifying creatures of all shapes, sizes, and hunger levels, and you'll get to observe these wonders in complete safety. Howl with a werewolf! Gaze into the glowing eyes of a giant spider! Look right through a spooky ghost! See horrific monsters you couldn't even imagine, only inches away from you! Things with fangs, things with claws, things with dripping red jaws-you'll see them all!
Not thrilling enough? Well, it's Halloween, and so we're offering a very special tour through the Haunted Forest. The new route goes deeper into the woods than any civilians have ventured before, and you're guaranteed to get a good scare! Rest assured that every possible security precaution has been taken. The Haunted Forest Tour has a 100% safety record, and technical difficulties are unheard of. You will be in no danger whatsoever. We promise.
You know when you see a book that looks great, and sounds exactly like the kind of read that you love, that you want to grab it and read it right away? That was my reaction when I heard about this one. I took one look at that great cover, the intriguing title and that tour guide blurb and I just had to read it. Once I had it, then I worried in case I ended up disappointed by it, but I'm glad to say that I loved it!
The book starts with a fascinating quick introduction to how the Haunted Forest came to exist in the first place and it throws you right into the adventure. It is followed by the story going forward 4 years to the established tour company getting ready for the next trip, an introduction to the staff who work on the tours and a bit about some of the passengers about to embark on this special Halloween trip. Instead of following the rails around the edge of the forest, this new trip is going to take the thrillseekers into the very centre of the forest for the first time ever, to get a chance at seeing all the monsters. It is, of course, perfectly safe.
"Nobody has ever been eaten on one of our tours and nobody ever will!"
Eddie is the driver of the tram with tour guide Barbara for company, both very experienced at their jobs. Amongst the passengers are monster fans and skeptics, the curious and the downright scared. As the tram creeps along on the rails, the darkness of the forest surrounds them and they start to see movement amongst the trees. The tension level builds quickly as the shocked passengers see things that they never believe existed, a a few start to fear what could happen if the monsters were to attack their transport. Then the unthinkable happens and their tram loses all power, stranding it in the middle of the forest, in the dark with the monsters starting to creep closer. Fear turns to panic as they notice that the second tram is coming up behind them at full speed, unaware that they are currently stuck...
So it begins! With two damaged trams unable to move and the monsters closing it, there seems to be little choice left to the passengers and crew-stay and vainly hope that these monsters won't break into the trams before a rescue comes or flee into the woods and try to run for the safety outside the forest. Whichever choice they make, they are dealing with a wide range of hungry monsters that are determined to feed, everything from giant spiders and ogres to flying things and demons. The tour promised that they would see amazing and deadly things. They are going to get their money's worth before they start to die...
I'm not going to say any more about the actual plot as I don't want to spoil the book for everyone who wants to read it. I liked that we found out how the forest and monsters came to be there before we join the adventurers going in. There was enough information about the main characters to have us get to know them and why they were there, but not enough to start getting bogged down in unnecessary stuff. We get a bit about the people on the trams as they move into the forest but then the focus switches to what they see. I'm happy with the level of character detail-it's the right amount for me to give a damn about them without the need for every detail of their life.
The monsters were just awesome. It starts with fleeting shadows moving between the trees and glowing eyes staring at the passengers, which starts to get a few of them freaked out. They start to realise just how big and scary some of these things are and the heart-rate of both passenger and reader may well start to increase. Initially it is that 'what IS that out there' feeling but then it becomes clearer what some of the things are and it gets scary. The passengers are already getting nervous and scared by the time the power cuts out. I found it very easy to feel their fear and imagine what would happen if I was sitting on that tram with power gone. Change of underwear for starters!
From the moment the power goes out it becomes a fast paced creature feature monster buffet as passengers become appetisers. The death toll is huge and it is one scary ride as we follow the fates of the passengers as they try to survive, hide and run. Monster after monster swoops in from every direction and causes utter carnage. I loved this part of the book so much, like the twisted horror fan that I am! I particularly loved the ogres! No character is safe as this section of the book shoots along at rapid speed, and the writing is great. It really did grab me and I didn't want to stop reading! The book also covers why this is happening which I found equally interesting and there are a couple of interesting twists as we go along.
There is nothing I love more than reading about monsters and this is one of the best ones I've read for that. My dad also loved this one. If you like fast paced creature feature books with high body counts, a splattering of gore and an interesting story, then I would recommend this book. It is not for the faint hearted or those who don't like real horror. I would love to see this as a film and a sequel would be nice, perhaps in a jungle setting or tropical island! I originally gave this four stars but on reflection and book comparisons, I have bumped it up to five stars for sheer scary entertainment!
Read March 2018.