Published November 27th, 2012 by Delirium Books
Cover and synopsis provided by the publisher.
They come at night.
A stranger staggers out of the wilderness under the cover of a blizzard and stumbles into a diner full of people. He collapses in the entryway, unzips his jacket, and allows the object hidden inside to fall out. Screaming commences.
Four old college buddies embark upon their annual elk hunting trip into the Rocky Mountains. This promises to be their last, for the passage of time is as merciless and unpredictable as the Colorado weather. And they’re not alone.
There are other hunters in the mountains, stalking game of a different breed. They know exactly what they’re doing, because they’ve been hunting in these woods for a long, long time. And no one ever survives to betray their existence.
This is a short story (only 69 pages on my e-reader, I know it made me giggle too) but it is a creepy one in that short amount of time. I had never read anything by this author prior to this story but I must say that I am going to check out his other work now. The basic premise is that four long time friends go out elk hunting once a year to bond, get drunk, and just have a good time. This year, however, they run into the middle of a blizzard. They retreat to the safety of an abandoned cabin for shelter when one of them is gravely injured but soon find that they are not the only ones doing some hunting, but now they are the prey.
The aura of this book is super creepy. I could feel the tension from the very first page when we have a man who is halfway dead stagger into a diner and throw open his coat and everyone starts screaming. I admit that I had a moment where I giggled inappropriately imagining him as a flasher, but that passed quickly into uneasiness and major creep factor. Right away I sensed that this mystery man was one of the four friends but I was anxious to find out which one, and what he had in his coat. He referred to it as “proof”. I spent the whole story contemplating what kind of proof and proof of what exactly.
One of the more remarkable things about this story is that I was terrified of this monster, whatever it was, that was stalking these men but didn’t actually see it for the majority. Not until the very end did we actually see the monster. Most of the time whatever was hunting them was hiding in the shadows and using the blizzard as cover. This made it incredibly scary and every time one of the men turned a corner I wanted to shout, “No! What if it’s hiding around the corner!!”
I was highly anticipating the ending of the story and that is where it falls off the five star train for me and runs to the four star track. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone but I will say that it was one of those moments where I celebrated and then sat there and thought “Wait, what?! What just happened?!” It was jarring, which is a good thing. But it also didn’t make much logical sense to me. I think anyone with an ounce of common sense would not have done that. Unless of course they did it on purpose. Actually, now that I think about it that would make it ultra sinister. Hmmm, I am not sure if it was a flop ending or magnificently creepy. Maybe you should read this and decide for yourself.
I received an ARC copy of this story from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. No compensation or promises were made. Thank you Delirium Books for this great read!