When I first read the description of “The Boy in the Woods” by Carter Wilson, I was immediately intrigued. I finally started the book hoping that the story would meet, or exceed, the promise of that description.
Tommy Devereaux is a bestselling author of horror/thriller fiction. Some people, even his most rabid fans, find it odd that his villains are always women. Tommy has studied almost every violent crime committed by women in the past several centuries to use in his fiction. What no one knows is that Tommy has firsthand experience with a woman murderer. In 1981, Tommy and two of his friends witnessed another boy being murdered by a teenage girl and then were compelled to help dispose of the body. It is a secret that Tommy has kept from everyone, including his wife, but which is coming back to haunt him 30 years later.
Tommy’s world is set to unwind when the girl, now a woman, suddenly reappears in his life and demands that Tommy tell her story. She wants to be immortalized in his words and will do whatever is necessary for this to happen. She tells Tommy that time is running short for him to complete his masterpiece about her as she has cancer and does not have long to live. She wants the world to know of her through fiction or she will destroy everything that Tommy holds dear. There is much more to her demands, however, and Tommy is destined to find out the true meaning of horror.
I had never read anything by Carter Wilson before but I know for sure that I will read more from him in the future. “The Boy in the Woods” is a very strong, stand-alone horror novel the likes of which seems rare in recent years. Wilson crafts a very tight and suspenseful story that flows well throughout the story and is able to be told completely (and with a satisfying ending) within the pages of a single novel. This almost seems like a dying art as many authors feel that they need to craft series rather than novels (or are being pushed in that direction by publishers) or they tell a good story with little idea of how to properly end it. Wilson does not fall into this trap. “The Boy in the Woods” is a single novel story that has every twist and turn that is needed to make it strong and suspenseful without being too verbose so that the reader feels almost compelled to turn the page. It is a horror/thriller in the vein of early Stephen King or some of Dean Koontz’s stronger single novels.
Severn House is putting out some very good books and “The Boy in the Woods” is a good example of this. The story is swiftly-paced and scary enough to satisfy fans of the horror genre while still having enough suspense and thriller aspects to it to appeal to a wider audience. Wilson shows a deft hand at crafting the story and I am definitely looking forward to reading more from him in the future. This is only his second novel and he already displays the skills of a seasoned writer. Do yourself a favor and try something new and different. Pick this book up and tell your friends about Wilson before the rest of the world discovers his talent.
I would like to thank Severn House and NetGalley for this review copy. “The Boy in the Woods” is available now.