Cabin Terror - by Sarah Jane Huntington
This is the first book I have read from Huntington, and it left me with no doubt that I need to read more. Before I get to the core of the book -my feelings about it and the staggered presentation of the story (skipping forwards and backward in time), I have to concentrate on Sarah’s voice. The prose is concise, the descriptions vivid, and the sentence structuring is used to great effect. You get a feel of the author knowing instinctively when to change up to shorter sentences to make the reader breathe more quickly. Vulgarity isn’t shied away from when required. Gore is described fluidly and cleanly.
It’s solid writing.
That impressed me a lot, I felt both comfortable in Sarah’s plot and in her presentation of that plot. I started to relax, and that made the twist, when it happened, a great smack to the senses. I loved Sarah’s treatment of the Mc’s – mistakes were punished, there wasn’t character bias – it felt like the nasty stuff that happened did so irrespective of who it was happening to. And that made it believable.
So, I think I’ve been vague enough here. Let’s look at the plot.
The novel is set up in three parts, one of which we revisit twice. Events in the past, an event in the present, and a pivotal character’s perspective of that new event as it takes place are split into two parts. Sarah leaves a punch to the gut until the last line of the book, and the whole thing is wrapped up in bloody action.
Some of the things that made this work are the amount of internals we read from the various characters' POV’S. Almost no action is spared from analysis – conflicting thoughts and motives fight out on the page as we try to understand what is going on. Sarah bleeds the history of the characters out one fact at a time until we are left with a whole picture. The violence, when it happens, is swift, bloody, and well presented. The ferocity of the creature is well played, and the tension built comes mainly from the situation and the stakes and strains all of the characters are under. Couched in a documentary filmmaking setting, it’s a mix of The cabin in the woods and The Blair witch project (also referenced early on).
I loved it.
There are a lot of internals – there’s almost no nuance left unexplored - there are times when a single sentence is analyzed for possible meaning, layered meaning etc. The motives of the characters are integral to an understanding of why they react as they do to various situations, and also why they are willing to embrace specific lies or half-truths presented to them. It’s a lot – but it’s well done.
It’s only after finishing the book that you realize that 90% of the action of the book occurs in a single location and that we never actually get to other locations that feature heavily as goals to reach. It feels like they are false promises made to us, and I wondered if Sarah had deliberately set them up to parallel how the characters lie to one another, and how they willingly embrace a theory or a lie in order to be able to function. I wanted to get to a location. I wanted the girls to explore it.
It was never going to happen.
But that belief – I was sure we were going there. Likewise, the lies the girls follow, regardless of how improbable they are, are threads to hold onto. If that was deliberate, Sarah, it was a great effect.
I’m giving this a solid 4⭐’s, and I can’t wait for Sealed, The sound of silence, and Iron Maidens, all waiting patiently on my kindle. Certainly a voice to look out for.
You don't get away that easily, Sarah.
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