Title: Servants of the Living Forest
Author Name & Publisher: Brandon L. Summers (Less Than Three Press)
Publication Date & Length: September 16, 2015 – 39 pgs
Cameron and Jocelyn have been together for eight months, and when Jocelyn suggests a camping trip as their first big outing together Cameron can’t bring herself to say no. Camping isn’t her first choice, but there’s nothing she likes more than seeing Jocelyn happy—and the time alone together isn’t bad either.
When they arrive, all seems better than they could have hoped. The locals are friendly, the area is beautiful, the only odd bits are old blood stains on the floor of the cabin and the strange mark that seems to pop up everywhere, and that’s easily ignored in favor of their romantic escape…
The two main characters in this story annoyed the crap out of me. It was like reading two adolescent teenage girls with the hormones of a teenage boy. Their conversations back and forth seemed unrealistic and didn’t match with their age that they were supposed to be. For a couple who had been together eight months, it did not read that way. It seemed as though they’d only been together a few weeks to a month at most.
Since the first large chunk of the story is mostly Jocelyn and Cameron going back and forth, it was hard for me to continue. However, there is some really good foreshadowing, which was the only thing that kept me interested and reading the story.
The twist in this story is fantastic. It reads quickly, comes sharply, and as soon as the door is opened it all floods forth. I do wish there had been more wrap up or explanation about what had happened (I’d share but that’d be spoilery). There seemed to be a lack of explanation for the characters and for the world created itself, no research done afterward, no conversations or deep thinking.
Sadly this story fell flat for me, the world wasn’t in depth enough and the characters were utterly annoying.
I will preface my review by saying I am not a horror fan. Horror, whether film or book, is not my genre. This particular horror story I would categorize more in the creepy and disturbing range rather than scary. That said, there were a couple of things I feel the author could have done better. I like the dichotomy of the love story with the creepy horror of the area. It reminds me of a cross between the backwoods nature of Deliverance with the weird cultish creepiness of The Hills Have Eyes. Disturbing. However, the author loses the chance to up the creep factor and add in that anticipatory scare factor simply by using language to add more mood and atmosphere. The other thing is the ending. I like the idea that the experience changed both of them and separated them, at least for a while. But I feel like the ending was truncated and rushed. He did such a good job making the characters live in the meat of the story, but here at the end it was almost as though the ending wasn’t important to the author. Like he told the part of the story that interested him and then had to tack on a conclusion. Lost some potential there.
I’ve sold stories to print and online publications. Of the six novels I’ve self-published, my favorite is “Crystal Star” (2013).