Title: Over the River and Through the Woods
Author: Evan Camby
Publication Date: June 21, 2016
Genres: Horror, Paranormal, Historical
Length: 28 pages
Source: I received a free copy from the author.
Rating: 3 Stars
Old Settler’s Woods is haunted. Evil. A place Ellie swore she would never set foot again.
It’s the winter of 1941, and a devastating blizzard has struck her small town. With the roads blocked, the only way to reach her ailing grandmother is to take the trail through Old Settler’s Woods, a place of unspeakable darkness and decay. Faced with losing the only family she has left, Ellie must contend with the evil once more. But will she survive with her sanity–and her soul–intact?
Content Warning: Hypothermia, mild violence (think ghosts lightly scratching at someone’s arms), and an implied murder that was never actually described or confirmed.
These woods are dark and deep, but not even Frost would make the mistake of calling them lovely.
The atmosphere was utterly perfect. Anyone who has ever walked in or near a forest on a cold winter day might recognize the uncertainty that can flood the nervous system when one hears something cracking, snapping, or scuffling off in the trees without being able to tell where the sound is coming from or who or what might be making it. Yes, it’s probably just an animal running away or a tree branch breaking under the weight of the heavy snow on it when it happens in real life, but that doesn’t necessarily make the experience any less eerie. My brain was flooded with memories of such days as I read this, and I shivered with delight as Ellie rationalized away what she was hearing and kept walking further into the forest no matter what.
I kept finding myself wishing for more substance to this story. There were brief glimpses of and hints about the terrible things that had happened in Old Settler’s Woods over the years, but none of them were described in enough detail to make them come to life in my imagination. I desperately wanted to give this a higher rating based on everything else I loved about it, but in the end this issue held me back from doing so. Reviews must be completely honest if they’re to be trustworthy, after all.
Ellie was a practical and resourceful woman, so I appreciated the time Ms. Camby spent explaining why Ellie would even think about wandering into a forest that her grandparents had spent years warning her to avoid. Not only that, but she did it during a fierce blizzard when the radio was warning everyone to stay home and off the roads! These are the sorts of scenes that can make or break a horror story, so I was glad to see so much attention spent on Ellie’s reasons for venturing out and why turning back wasn’t an option for her no matter how cold or frightened she was. I understood where she was coming from, and I felt like I got to know her better because of it.
Over the River and Through the Woods made me shudder.