Reviewed by Elaine Lamkin
Written by Stephen M. Irwin (interview here)
Published by Doubleday Books
Imagine for a moment that you have the ability to “see” a person at his or her moment of death, especially if it is a particularly violent death. Now imagine that this “gift” requires you to see a person’s violent death as though it were on a loop. Over and over and over… This is the burden/curse that has been given to Nicholas Close in the upcoming novel The Dead Path (to be released just in time for Halloween on October 5th).
As a child growing up in the (fictional) suburb of Tallong, outside of Brisbane, Australia, Nicholas and his best friend, Tristram, were involved in a bizarre event in the neighborhood woods that led to the kidnapping and murder of Tristram and Nicholas being forever traumatized. Growing up, he knows that he cannot continue to live in Tallong so he packs up and heads to London, where he marries and settles down to a seemingly normal life.
But those woods near his childhood home are not finished with Nicholas, and after his wife dies in a freak accident, he returns to Tallong to try and solve the mystery of why he sees these “loops” of people’s deaths and WHAT exactly is in those woods that has been taking and murdering children even after Nicholas left. Problems begin for Nicholas as soon as he arrives at his mother’s house, which is located uncomfortably close to the woods. Another child is kidnapped and murdered. And the townfolk are now looking at Nicholas as a possible cause.
The Dead Path was quite a surprise for me. I received an advance copy from “someone” at Doubleday but have no idea who that person is or why I was sent the book as I had never heard anything about it. Thank you, anonymous Doubleday person, as The Dead Path is one of the best horror books I have read this year, and it is one of the few truly GOOD Australian horror novels I have read. Period.
Combining elements of coming-of-age stories with some seriously dark fairy tale elements and bloody horror, author Irwin somehow knows what really scares us, and he pulls no punches in doing so. A perfect read for a dark and stormy night, The Dead Path will have you looking at any woods and wondering what could lie deep within them. And don’t forget about the spiders (brrrrr).
4 1/2 out of 5
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