"Trevor reached out his hand and turned down the stereo in the minivan. He cocked an eyebrow at his girlfriend, Sarah, sitting next to him in the passenger seat. "Wait, are you seriously telling me that women are better drivers than men? Seriously?"
Whisper Lake by James Melzer is a story that follows the usual serial-slasher formula.
As with pretty much all slasher stories, a group of teens (in this case four) drive out to the middle of nowhere, preferably surrounded by forests and non-existant cell phone coverage, and find their fun times getting wasted and high are interrupted by a psycho in said forest. They scream, they cry, they argue, they die. Age-old formula that anyone familiar with the genre will recognise and predict. The characters, the plot, the psycho. All filling out the moulds that countless others have used in the past. The characters themselves even lampshade it, stating how cliche the script is, with one of them quipping "There's no killer on the loose, idiot." Which of course is a death sentence in this genre.
Trevor is travelling down to his grandmother's cabin with his girlfriend, Sarah, and best friend Kincaid- along with his girlfriend, Amy. The four have been good friends for years, and they're planning one last 'hoorah' before heading off to college in the Fall. His grandmother passed away three months ago, and his parents have asked him to clean her cabin up and get it presentable to sell.
So off they go to the isolated cabin on Whisper Lake. When they get there they find the lights already on and the front door open. They decide to inspect the place and find gutted animal carcasses in the kitchen. Fresh ones. Along with an armoury worth of hunting weapons. Though spooked, they decide to stay anyway, believing it was probably just a squatter, and the two men get to work cleaning up the kitchen- which includes removing the carcass of a stag. There's obvious evidence that someone has been living in the cabin, and recently, but if they did the sensible thing and left, there would be no story. Their reasoning is that with all the weapons in the kitchen, even if someone comes back they could defend themselves.
Switch to obligatory psycho POV, as he watches from afar. He'll give them this last night, before he descends.
You know what to expect. Sex, gore, etc. All the usual elements that make up teen slasher stories. Though that doesn't make them any less enjoyable. For the most part it's fairly predictable, but I was surprised by a couple things. The POV switches a few times, to either killer POV, victim POV or random POV in the manner of slasher flicks.
It's unusual to see thriller/horror this short, but it works well for what it is. It also means that the pace is very fast. You have four teens, one killer and less than a hundred pages. Though having said that, I would've liked it to be just a little longer, so that it was more drawn out and the tension can build further. What works so well in this genre is the fear, the not knowing, the helplessness, and adding a little more of that is never a bad thing.
It starts off strong, but loses momentum towards the end. The ending was the only thing I really have criticisms for, it gets a little off track and just happens. Not in a sudden stop kind of way, but in an ambling it's just over kind of way. One of the group is never accounted for. I can only assume what happened to them.
The villain is suitably phantom-of-the-opera-esque, mixed in with a little Jason for good measure. A tormented, insane man, who doesn't really need a reason to kill you, but God help you if you give him one.
An entertaining, quick read, which fans of the genre are sure to enjoy.
Disclaimer: I received this book from the author through a giveaway. This is not a sponsored review. All opinions are 100% my own.