Title: The Dead Path
Author: Stephen M. Irwin
Release Date: October 5, 2010
Genre: Horror, Mystery
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
After his wife’s death, Nicholas Close returns home to Brisbane, Australia, where his mother still lives. He’s haunted by his wife’s death, but also haunted by other - real - ghosts as well. Nicholas somehow has the second sight, the ability to see people’s dying moments over and over again. When he arrives home, he receives news that a small child has died in the woods by his mother’s house, the same place his childhood friend Tristram was murdered years ago. Intrigued and horrified by this coincidence, Nicholas begins to dig into the mystery behind the woods, and why children are dying within it.
I’ve always wondered what the difference between horror and mystery was. Horror novels usually contain some sort of mystery element, but they inspire horror. But murder mysteries and gruesome descriptions are pretty horrific, but they don’t necessarily make a horror novel. I consulted Jenn of Jenn’s Bookshelves, whose favorite genre is horror, and she told me I’d know it when I saw it. And she was right - I knew that The Dead Path was a horror novel almost right away, and it made me wonder why I haven’t picked up more of this genre.
Nicholas was a wonderful main character who was grappling with some difficult things at the beginning of the book. He loses himself in his investigation of the child murders so he could stop thinking about his wife’s death. I loved how intent he was on finding the truth, as well as how matter of fact he was about seeing dead people. The investigation was very interesting, and I loved the pacing; Irwin maintained a great balance between the uncovering of information and the creepy elements within the novel.
There is a supernatural element to The Dead Path, and it’s incredibly well done. This book is chilling - the imagery and descriptions are incredibly vivid. The more Nicholas tries to make sense of what is going on around him, the more he realizes that this supernatural force is coming after him, is bent on his destruction. There is a sense of danger surrounding everything in this book; no one is safe from the evil that emanates from the woods. It is deliciously creepy and wonderfully atmospheric.
If you hate anything scary at all, then I’d steer clear of this book. But if you enjoy deliciously creepy gothic mysteries, those that are shrouded in clouds and cliffs and Victorian mansions, then I’d give this book a chance. It’s in a different vein, yet it had that same atmosphere that I absolutely love in gothic reads. I’ll be on the lookout for more horror novels, and I also hope that Irwin releases another book soon. I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent racing through this one.