2 stars, book reviews, horror, reviews, ya

Campfire by Shawn Sarles – Book Review

campfire First things first, I have to come out and say that I really, really did not enjoy this book.

Like, at all. It was not the book for me.

So far, I have really loved the James Patterson Presents imprint. I loved Girls of Paper and Fire, and Gunslinger Girl and Once & Future are some of my most anticipated. However, this one really fell short. I was hoping for a fun, spooky campfire story, and that is not at all what I got.

So, if you want to hear me rant about this book – my first low star review on this blog – you’ve come to the right place. So here we go.

DISCLAIMER: I reviewed an ARC copy of this book.

While camping in a remote location, Maddie Davenport gathers around the fire with her friends and family to tell scary stories. Caleb, the handsome young guide, shares the local legend of the ferocious Mountain Men who hunt unsuspecting campers and leave their mark by carving grisly antlers into their victims’ foreheads.

The next day, the story comes true.

Now Maddie and her family are lost in the deep woods–with no way out–being stalked by their worst nightmares. Because there were other, more horrifying stories told that night–and Maddie’s about to find out just how they end… – Goodreads

I feel like I quickly need to point out, without spoilers, that the synopsis is pretty much entirely incorrect. It doesn’t match up with the story much at all. I’m not sure why they decided to describe the story in this way, but I was really disappointed in it.

First of all, the writing. It was…not great. It wasn’t at all what I was expecting. I understand that this is Shawn Sarles’ debut novel, and I have been a bit lenient because of that, but it feels like the maturity of the writing doesn’t line up with the subject matter and age range of the target audience for the book. It was very reminiscent of Goosebumps – simple writing that is accessible for new readers. However, the subject matter of the book is much more mature. So, which is it? Who is this book targeted towards?

The second thing I have to rant about is the characters. The characters were so underdeveloped, I didn’t care about a single one of them. They were extremely bland, and there were just simply too many of them. I wish he had just gone with a few well developed characters, rather than 10+ that all have one personality trait each. The teenagers don’t behave like teenagers, the adults don’t behave like real adults. Going back to the point about the writing – the author constantly refers to the main character’s father as “Maddie’s dad”. Every time he speaks or is referred to, it’s always “Maddie’s dad said” or “Maddie’s dad did this”. About two thirds through the book, the author decides to start referring to him as Mitch instead, and, I swear, I thought it was a mistake at first because I had no idea who Mitch was. It took me at least 20 more pages of it to realize Mitch was Maddie’s dad.

I wish I could talk about the ending, but I like to keep things spoiler free on this blog (even though I totally don’t recommend you read this book). However, the ending was the one sort of redeeming factor about this book. I will say there are a couple of twists, one I thought was pretty bad and another I really enjoyed because it was a total homage to one of my favorite horror movies, and caused me to add on an extra star. I thought that was a lot of fun.

Overall, I didn’t much care for this book at all. As a big horror fan, it just didn’t really do it for me whatsoever. If you’ve read this book, I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. I’ll be responding if you want to discuss!

My Rating: ★★

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