As a fan of monster fiction, I devoured “The Beast of Barcroft” by Bill Schweigert and found it to be an interesting monster novel. I had no hesitation in diving into the novel’s sequel, “Northwoods,” hoping for another exciting and scary monster story.
Many envision hell as a land of fire and brimstone but hell is about to be unleashed on Earth in a barren and cold stretch of Minnesota. Davis Holland is an ex-Delta Force member who had thought he was prepared for anything but nothing could have prepared him for what he would encounter along with the local sheriff one cold night. As they investigate a possible illegal border crossing, they stumble across the scene of a bloody mass murder with the only clue of the perpetrator’s identity being a sinister wooden chest left in the middle of the carnage.
When Richard Severence, a wealthy cryptozoologist, hears of the murder, he sends a team to investigate the murder. Ben McKelvie, Lindsay Clark, and Alex Standingcloud had recently faced down a shape-shifting monster in the Washington D.C. area and had stopped the monster while barely escaping with their lives. They are now going to find themselves not only facing the ghosts of their pasts but also a force that is much more evil than anything they have ever faced when they enter the Northwoods.
“The Beast of Barcroft” was an all-out horror show of a novel that was packed with action from the beginning so I was surprised that the tone of “Northwoods” was more subdued at the outset. Schweigert spends more time developing the series in this novel than he did in the first book and thus it takes a little more time for the story to get off the ground. The first book really did not seem to be a part of a series but more of a stand-alone novel while this one is clearly established in a series and is more character driven. While I do not mind this at all, it does slow down the action some and it my mind wandered a little in the beginning of the book. Schweigert knows how to handle his monsters, though, and he kicks the novel into high gear about halfway through and never lets up.
“Northwoods” may start out a little slow but it definitely comes through with a bang once all of the players are in place. Schweigart delves through Native American mythology to pull out a monster that releases hell on earth similar to the Manitou novels of Graham Masterton. The violence in the second half of the book is brutal and often graphic so the novel is not for the weak of heart. Schweigart washes the pages with blood as the monster is unleashed and the characters find themselves in a violent and desperate struggle for their lives. “Northwoods” is not the straightforward monster novel of “The Beast of Barcroft” and I have to admit that I did not enjoy this novel as much as I did the first one. That being said, “Northwoods” is still a good horror novel and an entertaining read as well as providing Schweigart a base off of which he can build his series. It is not necessary to read “The Beast of Barcroft” before you read this novel but it definitely does not hurt so make sure you pick up both and prepare yourself for a bloody good time.
I would like to thank Random House Hydra and NetGalley for this advance review copy. “Northwoods” is scheduled to be released in February.