October is #WickedGoodReads Month here at Outlandish Lit and GXO. This week, we’re focusing on books with Dangerous Places. I tried to narrow it down to 3, but I have 4 scary books set in the woods that I love. (see the full list of discussion topics here).
THE RITUAL BY ADAM NEVILL
In this horror novel, a hiking/camping trip in Sweden goes horribly wrong when a short cut is taken. NEVER TAKE SHORT CUTS. If you liked The Blair Witch Project, you'll like this. It was actually horrifying. Do not read while camping.
Four old university friends reunite for a hiking trip in the Scandinavian wilderness of the Arctic Circle. No longer young men, they have little left in common and tensions rise as they struggle to connect. Frustrated and tired they take a shortcut that turns their hike into a nightmare that could cost them their lives.
Lost, hungry and surrounded by forest untouched for millennia, they stumble across an isolated old house. Inside, they find the macabre remains of old rites and pagan sacrifices; ancient artefacts and unidentifiable bones. A place of dark ritual and home to a bestial presence that is still present in the ancient forest, and now they’re the prey.
ANNIHILATION BY JEFF VANDERMEER
Nothing makes sense in Area X. There's a border nobody can see. Fungus grows in the shape of words. There are strange creatures. Maybe people turn into animals? Doppelgangers? Psychosis? It's so weird and tense, and the wilderness is as much a character as anybody else.
Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; all the members of the second expedition committed suicide; the third expedition died in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another; the members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within months of their return, all had died of aggressive cancer.
This is the twelfth expedition.
THE TROOP BY NICK CUTTER
This book is definitely more focused on the horror of the "bioengineered nightmare" referenced below (I won't spoil it) and the tensions that appear between these stranded scouts. But it is set in a forest on an island that leaves them all stuck with each other and with someone infected. THIS BOOK IS SO GROSS.
Once a year, scoutmaster Tim Riggs leads a troop of boys into the Canadian wilderness for a three-day camping trip—a tradition as comforting and reliable as a good ghost story and a roaring bonfire. But when an unexpected intruder—shockingly thin, disturbingly pale, and voraciously hungry—stumbles upon their campsite, Tim and the boys are exposed to something far more frightening than any tale of terror. The human carrier of a bioengineered nightmare. An inexplicable horror that spreads faster than fear. A harrowing struggle for survival that will pit the troop against the elements, the infected...and one another.
THE WOODS BY JAMES TYNION IV
A high school is all of a sudden transported to some whole other, slightly magical world that nobody can make heads or tails of. The woods surrounding the high school is filled with monsters and mystery. It's a whooooole other world out there in the forest. It is just my type of weird. There's a hint at maybe aliens or at least something Ancient Aliens-y?? It's like The Breakfast Club, but with more angry monsters. If you're interested in comics, check this out!
On October 16, 2013, 437 students, 52 teachers, and 24 additional staff from Bay Point Preparatory High School in suburban Milwaukee, WI vanished without a trace. Countless light years away, far outside the bounds of the charted universe, 513 people find themselves in the middle of an ancient, primordial wilderness. Where are they? Why are they there? The answers will prove stranger than anyone could possibly imagine.
What are your favorite scary stories set in the woods?
The next #WickedGoodReads topic I'll be getting in on is on Monday - Witches!!