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The Darkest Part of the Woods

The Darkest Part of the WoodsThe Darkest Part of the Woods by Ramsey Campbell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As other reviewers have pointed out, THE DARKEST PART OF THE WOODS moves at a snail’s pace. I’ll admit there were times, particularly in the first half, when I almost put the novel down for good. I also found it overwritten. Not every description has to include a metaphor or simile involving trees, and yet page after page, I encountered them over and over again like a thematic sledgehammer. As with the pacing issue, this led to occasions when I felt myself fighting to keep reading.

However, if you prune away (ha ha) all the elements that slow this novel down, at its center is a compelling cosmic-horror tale about a haunted forest with its own dark intelligence, and the legacy of a magician who tried and failed to turn that intelligence to his own purposes. Strange inhuman creatures abound on the periphery of the story, along with madness and terrible family secrets, only hints of which emerge in the telling.

I’m glad I didn’t give up and kept reading all the way to the end, but I’m not going to pretend it kept my attention throughout. Do I recommend it? Yes, but only for readers with patience. If you’re looking for a fast-paced thriller, you may want to look elsewhere.

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