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"Silence in the Woods" Book Review

Written by Karin Crighton

Published by Scared E Cat Books

Silence In The Woods J P Choquette Large

By J.P. Choquette
214 pages, 2019, Fiction
Released on April 10th, 2019

Review:

Paul and Jane Rogers expect a lovely trail hike with friends. Paul’s close pal Allen Warning has a fondness for the mysterious, and wants to visit a spot of local lore where a young man disappeared twenty years before. Along with his wife Deirdre, a dear friend to Jane, the foursome is pleased to go on an adventure. Yet before they can even reach the site of the vanishing, they find trouble. Disorientation, harsh weather, injuries, and a mysterious animal in the woods. Sheltering in a cave proves to be the worst choice they could have made, as they are slowly deranged one by one by an evil presence above.

I would classify Silence in the Woods as a romantic fiction. Or a love novel. No sexy times, but pages upon pages of the main couple pledging aloud and internally their love for one another and their resolve to survive for one other. Pages upon pages upon pages where little action happens. I couldn’t stand it, but I hate love without purpose in plot or character growth.

As a horror lover, I couldn’t bear the long-winded descriptions of the trees and the wind and the shadows. They stall the plot with endless, non-essential details. What truly happens could be told in one paragraph. As someone who hates horror, I think my mom would like the focus on the marital strength and touches of Christianity.

The monsters themselves are perplexing. The evil that afflicts the small troupe has origins, but Silence in the Woods doesn’t make it clear. If it’s explained in the other Monsters in the Green Mountains series, it’s lost on the reader who hasn’t read those books. (It’s me. I’m that reader.)

More than anything I am baffled by the declared setting in comparison to the dialogue and characters descriptions. This is an image of a newspaper clipping from 1917 I pulled from the many at the Library of Congress. The language is entirely disparate from the novel. While the narrative could be reasoned to be modern, the dialogue is as modern as you’ll hear in Starbucks tomorrow morning. Both Allen and Paul are written to be photojournalists, but the primary artwork in 1917 papers are sketches and hand-drawn-portraits. There could be a small photo on the front page, but likely from a photographer covering the war effort overseas. There were lightweight portable cameras available but steady work as a photojournalist seems extremely unlikely. And if Paul and Allen are exceptionally skilled, why aren’t they in Europe? That Jane works, even as a secretary while her husband is not abroad, is bizarre. A married woman working? Deirdre being named as a photojournalist is just bonkers. That a woman would not only go to college but also be welcomed into a newspaper office as a wife is inconceivable. Remember how women could be fired for getting pregnant until NINETEEN SEVENTY-THREE? Remember how sexual harassment wasn’t a crime until NINETEEN NINETY-THREE? Now, suppose it is possible. Perhaps these four are pioneers of the future. Perhaps they are endowed with supernatural photography skills. Why aren’t these, or any special circumstances, spelled out in the narrative?

I genuinely feel bad when I give a low rating. Writing is hard. Really hard. I know writing is the birth of everything. And thereby even writing that needs improvement in clarify and objective can be a launch of something new. To that end, I’m going to close with a well-known Teddy Roosevelt quote for every artist finding or honing their voice:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds.

Grades:

Overall: Zerostars Silence In The Woods J P Choquette Small
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About The Author
Karin Crighton 01
Staff Writer | Lunatic
Karin doesn't know anything about movies, but has a lot of time and opinions to yell into the void. When she's not directing plays in and around NYC, she's watching every horror movie on every streaming service. And probably talking to a cat.
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