This story brought back great memories to me of life at one of the many summer camps that are scattered throughout the length and breadth of the US. As a UK student in 1977 I worked as a counselor in a summer camp run by the Salvation Army at Lake Sebago some 20k south of Portland Maine, and as the years have passed and I have grown older, but not necessarily wiser, I have often wondered what it would be like to return, if only for a short time to visit a place that meant so much to me as a young man and helped create and mould the person I am today....
In The Wildman by Rick Hautala we meet Jeff Cameron and one late evening he receives a phone call from Tyler Crosby who along with three other friends Evan,Mike,and Fred is invited to a reunion at a summer camp all 5 had last visited some 30+ years ago Camp Tapiola...and so Jeff sets off on a journey which will have far reaching repercussions and perhaps he will find the reason why Jimmy Foster was found dead (with his throat cut) that summer long ago. This is a fantastic old fashioned horror story the tension and sense of fear is ever present as the 5 friends spend a weekend in a now desolated summer camp. Rick Hautala (sadly now deceased) is supreme at creating a very uneasy atmosphere and Jeff becomes ever fearful that there is an alterior motive for this reunion.
"Jeff didn't know why, but he sensed a palpable presence hovering close to him in the gathering gloom. His eyes widened as they darted back and forth, scanning the cleared areas where the other buildings-the cabins and tent platforms and the old meeting hall-used to be. But his eyes were continually drawn back to the woods where deeper shadows lurked. The feeling of a presence lurking in the woods was overpowering" The Wildman is a great mixture of crime and descriptive horror with a little bit of magic built in around stories that the 5 friends used to be told about Hobomock the Indian demon who tricked enemies and friends alike, and caused their destruction, he was an Indian spirit who haunted the island. There is a killer in their midst, and he intends to kill them before the night is through.....Jeff feels the presence of Hobomock who at times enters his mind and gives him the strengths and perceptions needed to bring the killer to justice.
The ability to astound the reader is what makes a great author and during his search for the truth Jeff makes a surprising and unexpected discovery that totally changes and makes clear that the friends are not meant to leave the summer camp alive! I thought the story was excellent and the crime/horror/mysticism very well balanced. If you like horror that does not rely on violence or gore but rather tests the imagination of the reader then you will love The Wildman.
I would however say that I am disappointed that once again the kindle edition has some a number of grammatical errors:
"He used to feel he could glide along as silently a shadow cast by...." should read "He used to feel he could glide along as silently (as) a shadow cast by....."
"out here, he wasn't going t0 let him dally" should read "out here, he wasn't going t(o) let him dally"
"he took the bottle of rum from his pocket and took a long pull. The he tapped Fred..." should read "he took the bottle of rum from this pocket and took a long pull. The(n) he tapped Fred..."
"He wondered how he was going to warn the without alerting Ben."...should read "He wondered how he was going to warn the(m) without alerting Ben."
"On a purely rational level, he knew it wasn't true. I couldn't be"......should read "On a purely rational level, he knew it wasn't true. I(t) couldn't be"
"Jeff, moving a few steps at a time. He wore hooded raincoat"....should read "Jeff, moving a few steps at a time. He wore (a) hooded raincoat"
So once again why can the publishers of the kindle edition not get it right!! I discovered these errors on first reading.. have the kindle edition proof read before publication???!! I felt the telling of the story of The Wildman was easily a 5 star review but am compelled to award 4 stars due to its shoddy kindle presentation!!