Backwoods, The (Book)

Reviewed by Johnny Butane

Written by Edward Lee

Published by Leisure Books

I feel like maybe I’m too harsh on Edward Lee. His last release through Leisure, Flesh Gothic, was actually pretty good, as you can tell by my of it. So I went into The Backwoods thinking that maybe it would be even better, finally up to the hype that’s been around the man for far too long.

Sadly, such was not the case, and to be honest I think The Backwoods might be the worst thing he’s ever had published, at least of the few that I’ve read.

The story follows Patricia, a successful attorney in Washington, D.C., who is forced to head back to her hometown of Agan’s Point, Virginia when her sister’s husband dies. She does it for her sister, Judy, as her now-dead husband was a complete prick that everyone in town hated except for poor Judy who married him. So Patricia leaves her loving husband behind and makes the drive back to the town where the worst experience of her life, being raped at the age of 16, occurred.

She’s got some issues to get through, obviously, but pretty much the moment she arrives she starts having increasingly racy fantasies about the handyman, Ernie, who’s had a crush on her since grade school. Meanwhile, the strange group of gypsy-like people (Squatters) who live on Judy’s land and work the shrimp boats for her, start either disappearing or dying in horrific ways, but then so do some of the more despicable citizens of the town in incredibly strange ways: one man is found without a single drop of blood I his body and no signs of anything that would’ve taken it out, another suddenly looses all the organs in his body. This interesting method of dispatching the bad guys eventually becomes the only thing of any interest or value in the entire story, and since the deaths are spaced out over 300+ pages, the stuff in between is difficult to get through.

One of the many problems I had, aside from Lee’s inability to tell a cohesive story without going inside the character’s heads to tell us the same things over and over again, is that from the get-go you know why the Squatters are dying, and it’s so very 80’s horror movie it hurts. It’s all because an evil land developer wants to build condos where the Squatters live, but since Judy won’t sell if the Squatters are still there, he has to have them killed. This eliminates about 85% of the tension and mystery that could come from the story, as does the establishment that one of the town’s cops is crooked within the first few pages. So what we’re left with is page after page after page of Edward Lee describing the sexual fantasies that Patricia can’t seem to control, with a bit of bloodshed mixed it to keep it out of the purely erotic category, and planted somewhere near erotic horror.

And it’s so damn boring. Page after page of titillating prose might be great for a housewife with an unloving husband reading romance novels, but when I sit down with a horror novel I want some horror, damnit. That coupled with Lee’s inherit inability to make any of his characters actually seem real made The Backwoods a chore to get through. I’ve even say that his Infernal books were better than this, because at least he went over the top with the gore. Backwoods just seemed to me to be a book from a man quickly running out of interesting ideas.

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1 out of 5

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Johnny Butane

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