Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Guy N. Smith Book Review - The Wood

The residents of the sleepy English village of Drow have but one rule: Never go into the woods... alone! Shrouded by fog and filled with boggy marshes, Drow wood claims the lives of many unwary villagers every year. Sure, nature fucking blows, but there are worse horrors that await those who enter the woods. It is also home to evil spirits that roam the mists looking for living souls to terrorise.

The first person to fall victim to the living forest is Carol Embleton. She is forced to hide in the wood after she is assaulted by a crazed rapist named James Foster. Her attacker chases after her (he doesn't even bother to dress so they are both bareass naked) and pretty soon they are both completely lost. The next day there is no sign of her so her boyfriend, nature expert Andy Dark, heads into the woods himself and soon the police are on the lookout for all three of them.

The first thing the police do is contact Thelma Brown, BFF with Carol Embleton and the last person to see her alive. She is asked to take part in a re-enactment of the crime but they aren't filming it so I don't know what they expect to achieve. Unfortunately as soon as they approach the evil woods the police officer is driven insane by it's dark energies (or something) and tries to rape her. Thelma too runs off into the woods and, to cut a long story short, gets raped to death by a zombie in a pit of filthy swamp water. There's a lot of raping going on in this book. If I had to sum this book up in a word it would probably be "rapey".

Eventually the would-be rapist policemen comes to his senses and tries to find Thelma but he is killed in the process. Serial rapist James Foster gets his just desserts at the hands of some undead Druids who roam the forest. Carol and Andy are captured by Bertie Hass, a German fighter pilot who crashed into the woods during WWII. You see, the forest exists in a place outside of time, undead souls from all periods of history are caught in a perpetual time loop, doomed to live out the last few moments of their lives for all eternity. The worst of them all are the customs officers, brutal thugs who in times' past captured smugglers and dragged them back to Drow House where they suffered horrific torture.

It's a pretty good idea and Smith is in his element when it comes to describing spooky natural settings like this, so there's plenty of atmosphere. Unfortunately there isn't much of a plot. A bunch of spooky shit happens and that's pretty much it. The ending is a bit of a let down in particular, the survivors manage to escape the spooky woods by basically running in one direction for a long time. Well done guys, but why didn't you do that 150 pages ago? Basically, it's typical Smith: Lots of incomplete sentences, spooky ellipses and whenever something exciting happens he starts using italics, but it's probably one of his more atmospheric ones and it tops out at 170 pages so it's a really short read.

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