In McCandless’ debut horror novel, a ragtag crew sets out after a killer leaving a gruesome trail through the East Texas wilderness.
In 1911, something is killing people in the howling wilderness area of East Texas known as the Big Thicket, and it’s not just killing them in a conventional way—it’s ripping them apart, partially eating them and draining them of their blood. A motley posse not fit for a B-western, consisting of a slow-on-the-draw sheriff, an erudite black doctor, a mysterious Texas Ranger and a Forrest Gump-clone, among others, determines to hunt down the thing before it can get somewhere really remote and replicate in anticipation of an assault on humanity. What they discover on their quest, and who they discover is in league with the creature, adds even more spice to this entertaining and often creepy tale. McCandless wisely doesn’t burden the book with a typical main character/hero dripping with save-the-day traits and ironic one-liners; instead, the author fleshes out each of the characters that make up the not-so-merry band of hunters. Even the victims aren’t just dealt with in the one-chop-and-out method common to bad entertainment; they are given back stories and more purpose than just serving as creature fodder. The author channels his inner Bram Stoker at times and moves the story along via letters, newspaper accounts and other indirect narrative devices. A Texan himself, the author bases a lot of the story on studies of regional folklore and oilfield legends. The quickly paced tale is graphically gory in spots, and the book’s back cover contains a warning to that effect, as well as an advisory that the book is not recommended for readers under the age of 18.
A well-executed journey into the macabre that should give anyone pause before walking through a desolate area at night.