Book Review – The Girl Who Hid in the Trees by Steve Stred

girl hid

This short novella was one creepy-ass ride. Urban legends are unnervingly scary at the best of times, and here Steve Stred has crafted one that certainly delivers with chills aplenty.

There’s a legend of a girl who lurks in the trees of McConnell’s Forest on the edge of town. For many years people have become lost in there, never to be seen again. Most of us have spent some time in the woods I’m sure, and I’m almost pretty certain many people’s imaginations of the macabre can play havoc whilst in amongst the trees. But imagine if the woods you were in actually had a past?

Jason’s older brother, Mikey goes missing on a journey into the forest to try and disprove this legend. He’s never seen again; well, I’ll rephrase that; bits of him and his friends are. Time passes and Jason grows into a teenager, gets the teenage horn, and becomes more-than-friends with a certain girl. But Vanessa also lost her brother on the same trip as Jason’s.

The relationship between these two blossoms, and even though the story blasts away with no sense of boring character building, you really feel for these two. Even more so when they begin to have visions of their dead brothers and other spooky happenings occur. Images of a girl add to the realism of this urban legend. It seems like it is not just a scary tale made up by generations past.

They decide, with a small group of friends, to go into the forest and try and search for clues. Well, and this isn’t spoilerism here, the legend isreal. And oh yes, do they see what all the fuss was about.

Blood is spilt, gore is unleashed, and terrors reign supreme. Yes, this was one fast-paced horror splatter-fest.

Jason and Vanessa’s plan to go and find this little girl was perhaps a bit stupid, well definitely stupid after what happens, and I did wonder why they were doing this. But in saying that, I’ve never lost a brother to a forest monster, and if I had then maybe I’d be more keen to find answers than someone reading about these events from the safety of a Kindle!

But that’s only a small gripe and didn’t detract from my enjoyment of this tale.

There are also three short stories included after the main feature. Unfortunately none of these lived up to the awesomeness of The Girl Who Hid in the Trees.

Abraham, Look to the Sky was a tale of cosmic horror that I think could have been longer, particularly the ending.

The Tooth Collector was enjoyable and brought back a well-known character from Steve’s Left Hand Path short story collection. This one was pretty darn creepy, especially the ending.

And The Navajo Nightmare finished things off. It was decent, but I think I was still too enamoured with the main event to be wowed by it.

But these extra stories take nothing from my rating of this book, because TGWHITT was the story I was most interested in and the reason for buying this in the first place. These others were more like demo version bonus tracks added on to an excellent album.

Add to this the excellent foreword by Gavin Kendall, and the author’s notes on the stories, you have yourself a damn fine book in your hands.

If you like horrors in the woods with a particular penchant for wince-inducing killings by a little girl (which is quite a specific genre, I admit), you need look no further.

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