I very much enjoyed this most haunting and beautifully crafted fable like biological horror from Christopher Stanley.
‘The Forest Is Hungry‘ is another book from the Short Sharp Shocks! series from Demain Publishing and if you’ve not heard about them I’d go and check them out when you’re done reading this.
What I took away from ‘The Forest Is Hungry‘ is that Stanley is a person that has been moulded by horror, someone that has an unyielding passion for it; and this is evident in his writing. The tropes that he uses he also brandishes with a masters touch, they litter the pages like scars, they are both visible and striking in their use and cause this tale to be a smorgasbord of malevolent brilliance. Highlighting that this horror writer knows exactly what he’s doing and you should be very, very scared!
Stanley expertly splices together materials from various horror staples such as possession and the supernatural. I also picked up on some subtle nods to ‘The Village of the Damned‘ and John Wyndham’s ‘The Day of the Triffids‘ but that could just be me. But having made these comparisons, let me be clear – Stanley makes this story his own, and in doing so creates a new breed of unique biological horror.
Stanley takes us on a journey with a fully realised cast of characters. In particular I loved his main protagonist who has such a distinct voice and driving purpose that as a reader it pulls you in from the outset. ‘The Forest is Hungry‘ is at its core a story of a father trying to protect his daughter (and having two daughters myself – I was immediately invested) whatever the cost from the evil that has followed them back from the woods and the ongoing craziness that has engulfed and tangled up their lives like Japanese Knotweed.
I loved the veiled beauty woven into Stanley’s prose, at some points its horrific at others it’s poetic. I also enjoyed the fact that Stanley doesn’t feel the need to spell anything out to you; that he trusts in his ability as a storyteller to get you to that point of believing… it’s brilliant and his belief in his craft also enables the story to progress without huge section of information dumps (this kills a short story – trust me).
Stanley also crafts some fantastical elements into his story towards its climax – but I never found myself doubting what I was reading, he had me enraptured from the outset and I was fully invested and gripped until the very last word.
I’ll ruin your enjoyment of this story if I go into too much more detail, trust me, there isn’t much I can really say without entering into spoiler territory; because this book starts at breakneck speed and continues in the same vein and with each page turn or click of the Kindle it just continues to snowball into something quite brilliant and very very disturbing.
Another brilliant outing into the Short Sharp Shocks! series for me and a book and a writer I’d highly recommend you check out – just don’t go eating anything you find in those woods!
The Forest is Hungry is published by Demain Publishing and more information can be found here.
Christopher Stanley creates dark and unexpected worlds where monsters lurk in the plumbing and dragons linger in the basement. His stories have won prizes with The Arcanist, The Molotov Cocktail, The Short Story, ZeroFlash, Retreat West, To Hull & Back, Raging Aardvark and Corvus Review.
Reviewed by Ross Jeffery
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