Those Who Came Before by J.H. Moncrieff
Publication Date: October 10th 2019
Publisher: Flame Tree Press
Genre: Horror / Supernatural
Stars: ★★★★★ [4.5]
People are dying at Strong Lake, and the worst is yet to come.
An idyllic weekend camping trip is cut short when Reese Wallace’s friends are brutally murdered. As the group’s only survivor, Reese is the prime suspect, and his story doesn’t make much sense. A disembodied voice warning him to leave the campground the night before? A strange, blackened tree that gave him an electric shock when he cut it down for firewood?
Detective Greyeyes isn’t having any of it until she hears the voice herself and finds an arrowhead at the crime scene – an arrowhead she can’t get rid of. Troubling visions of a doomed Native American tribe who once called the campground home, and rumors of cursed land and a mythical beast plague the strangest murder case she’s ever been a part of.
Flame Tree Press is the new fiction imprint of Flame Tree Publishing. Launched in 2018 the list brings together brilliant new authors and the more established; the award winners, and exciting, original voices.
*** Note: I received this book from the publisher as a winner of the giveaway. Many thanks to publisher. ***
Those Who Came Before was chilling horror story that revolved around a survivor, a detective, a dreadful mythical creature, and cursed Native American land. It was about horrible human deed, sins and its consequences, vengeance, violence, and greed, police brutality, curse and disease, and kindness vs cruelty.
Writing was gripping, vivid, and thrilling with intriguing plot and atmospheric setting. Book was multiple perspective from Maria Greyeyes-the detective, Reese Wallace- the survivor and Native Americans from the nightmare/visons.
That synopsis told about what happened in the book well. As it said, two couple Reese-Jessica and Kira-Dan arrived at Strong Lake campsite to spend their weekends. The weekend that they thought would be perfect chill out time turned into ghastly and spine chilling murders. All of them died except Reese who slept through murders! Now that raised big question, HOW! How could he sleep through murders in which girls suffered most – one whose body they couldn’t put together, what remained was more or less pulp and other was brutally raped and murdered, Dan was sleeping in same tent as Reese whose head was decapitated? Now if that makes you shiver and stop reading this review right here, I don’t blame you. It was horrible scene and it didn’t end here.
So, the same questions Detective Greyeyes had. If Reese was survivor or heartless murderer. Nobody believed him. At first Detective was sure Reese was innocent and somebody else did this but who? And then there was her own experience, feeling something evil and hearing strange voice, a mysterious arrowhead she keep finding around her neck, and nightmares that were messing with her head. How would they prove Reese innocent and how can she get rid of that arrowhead and stop visions. What was Native American’s story and who was the killer? Can they fight something that is more than hundred years old?
First few chapters were filled with lots of blood, gore and grotesque murders. I knew Reese was innocent but something was off. In first 50 pages we were introduced to characters, theory of wendigo and cursed land and talk about other murders. And then there were visions of Native American people from past and their life at Strong Lake. What came next was really shocking. What made it even more shocking was author’s note saying it actually happened in past, not curse of course, but what happened to Native Americans in this book, what wiped out their whole nation.
Let me first tell about characters. All of them were flawed, hiding something, life was not roses and sunshine and it got worst after this campsite murders. They were interesting to read, there was lot conflicts between three main characters who ultimately were involved in solving the case and chasing boogeyman away- Maria, Reese, and Kinew.
I liked Maria. She was best in her department and only married one who had child. She loved her job and her passion for it. Though it meant less time for husband and her daughter, she could manage fine until this murders. It troubled her a lot, that campsite did something to her that triggered visions of Native American woman and her camp at Strong Lake and then that arrowhead she couldn’t get rid of. All these took its toll on her relationship with her husband. I still feel she should have come out clean, she should have tell all these to her husband. It wasn’t like he wasn’t understanding and the way he reacted at climax was genuine but exaggerated. They both could solve this but I could see Maria’s point as well. Her partner Jorge was also good. I liked him too. I wish he was more included in story and investigation.
Reese was good kid. Cocky and careless in the beginning but he grew up pretty fast after what happened at campsite. He wasn’t wrong in trusting Maria, he could see difference between good and bad people. His feeling were represented well. His guilt and repentance, his thoughts and feelings for his friends, and conscience was realistic. I liked him for sticking to truth no matter what happened, no matter how people and police treated to him, no matter how much his parents and that lawyer believed. He never changed his statement and I admired him for that. There was no doubt he was good person and his development was even better.
Kinew– was chief of Native Americans residing at Strong Lake reserve. He knew a lot than he let on. As soon as his office filled books was narrated I knew I’ll like him. He thought before he speak, extremely patient and friendly person. I liked the way he helped both Maria and Reese.
Best part of the book was Wendigo. Author did amazing job in describing Wendigo, what people said about it and how it came to existence. Visions of Native American people and their story was brilliant. It was so poignant and outrageous. I hated that man who did wrong to their whole community, that woman who was so weak and spineless who couldn’t stop that man and let that happen. He deserved what happened to him and to his sons. My heart went out to Native Americans, more to their medical woman who gone through worst. I could understand need for revenge but it wasn’t fair to punish those who were innocent, who didn’t do anything wrong, or never thought wrong about native Indians.
It said a lot about how one horrible act by one sick person can affect whole community and people for generations. What made me mad was, after all this horrible history there were still differences in this book and Native Americans were treated horribly by authorities.
Climax was tense. Still revealing shocking things but most shocking was what was happening to Reese and Maria and reasons behind it. I could get why Reese but not why Maria. The end was tense, sad, and unbelievable. I’m still scratching my head why it was happenings to Maria and it was left unanswered at the end and that’s why I’m cutting that half star.
Overall, it was creepy thrilling horror with horrible creature and amazing characters. Horror lovers would love to read this book.
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