Kids, this is a great example of how to take a great opening, and ruin it

Written by
Graham Masterton in 2014

I have a love and hate relationship with horror. I mean, I don’t really get the idea of going to a horror movie, for example, unless it’s on a first date and you a touchy-feely night is the objective. Even then, you’d have to put up with screaming at silly, predictable jump scares. On the other hand, good horror, that’s creepy and mysterious is good. This is why Forest Ghost is disappointing on so many levels.

The premise of Forest Ghost is this: a group of boy scouts and leaders have committed suicide in a state forest with no known motive. Jack Wallace, whose son Sparky had a close friend amongst the carnage, sets out to investigate the cause of the suicides. Along the way, Jack finds out that the cause of the suicides and his family are intimately linked.

The premise of the story is pretty damn good. I mean, you don’t often come across a mystery as well presented. But the meat of the book, the storyline and its conclusion is anything but satisfactory. Jack Wallace is a decent parent, but Sparky’s innate ability to predict the future through astrology makes the whole spiritual, ghosty storyline ridiculous.

Then there’s the ghost thing itself. Without spoiling the story too much, the ghost has to be the most inconsistent spirit I’ve ever come across in a long time. Why does the scout troop get the short straw when a whole bunch of other people don’t? And then, in the climax of the book, there’s a whole lot of unnecessary blood and guts. Is this the best that Western horror has to offer? Half baked spirits with dodgy motivations, and blood and guts?

Some people will probably pick up this book and think that an interesting opening will carry it to the end. Well, I’m sorry, but it won’t. Not only is the ending stupid, it’s also contrived. In fact, halfway through, I wondered whether Masterton actually had a plan for this book, or whether it was his treatise on saving the environment. An all-round disappointment.

Rating

Akin to premature ejaculation, Forest Ghost has a great start, but deflates rather quickly.

Read this if you…

Want something disappointing for a change, kind of like how we all felt when we watched The Phantom Menace.

Skip this if you…

Seriously, need I say more?

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