EXCERPT: An arm catches around my neck. I fall.
A body on top of me. Heavy. Smells of waxed jacket. A forearm to my face.
‘Get off me!’
‘Please,’ she says.
I roll away and she is staring at me, her eyes bulging and red, her fingers bloody.
‘Who are you?’ I ask, the fog managing to drift between us, her face breaking up behind the static.
She gets to her knees and stands and I see her jeans are red. Stained. Splattered.
I pull my knife from my bag and she says, ‘No’ and puts her palms to her face, and she says, ‘No, no, no.’
I take a deep breath of forest air, dense with spores and rotten leaves. It’s thick autumn air laced with the tang of rot and decay.
‘Over there,’ she says, pointing into the mists.
I swallow hard and stand up and move to where she’s pointing. A fallen pine, its root system flat and sprawling like a metro map. A dash of colour behind. A coat? I clamber over the pine, its rough bark scratching at my trousers like the nails of a grasping hand.
And two legs.
‘Dead,’ she says.
ABOUT ‘BAD APPLES’: It only takes one…
A resident of small-town Visberg is found decapitated
A cultish hilltop community ‘celebrates’ Pan Night after the apple harvest
A race against time
As Visberg closes ranks to keep its deadly secrets, there could not be a worse time for Tuva Moodyson to arrive as deputy editor of the local newspaper. Powerful forces are at play and no one dares speak out. But Tuva senses the story of her career, unaware that perhaps she is the story…
MY THOUGHTS: Dark. Intense. Spine chilling. Unsettling. Gory. Almost nightmarish. And set at Halloween.
I read Bad Apples, my first book by Will Dean, with a kind of fascinated horror. I was constantly on edge, at times not daring to breathe as I read.
The setting is the fictional towns of Gavrik and Visberg, a few hours north of Karlstad, a real city, in Sweden. Surrounded by the Utgard Forest, the winters are cold and dark, the animals wild, the towns sparse, insular, and isolated. Even the difference in the inhabitants of Gavrik and the even more isolated Visberg is noticeable.
The characters are outstanding and many exude an air of mystery and menace. There is a pair of elderly sisters who carve trolls, adorning them with animal parts; a clock maker with a macabre basement museum; a mother and son who run a strange storage facility; a Bosnian pizzeria owner reputed to be a war criminal; and twins who run an eerie 24 hour gaming parlour. There are many more characters who range from eccentric to downright scary, so there’s no shortage of suspects, and there’s plenty of red herrings to exercise those little grey cells.
But there are tender moments too, such as with Danny, the delightful and lovable small child of the warring couple who live next door to Tuva. There is definitely something about this couple, and I am sure that they will feature more in future books.
While Dean may lack the finesse of Mr King, he still knows how to create an atmosphere.
I haven’t read any of the previous books in this series, but that is something I intend to remedy. I didn’t have any problem with continuity, and Bad Apples is easily read as a stand-alone.
Bad Apples ends on a cliffhanger, but I am sure that there is more to come.
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T: @willrdean @OneworldNews
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THE AUTHOR: Will Dean grew up in the East Midlands, living in nine different villages before the age of eighteen. He was a bookish, daydreaming kid who found comfort in stories and nature (and he still does). After studying Law at the LSE, and working in London, he settled in rural Sweden. He built a wooden house in a boggy clearing at the centre of a vast elk forest, and it’s from this base that he compulsively reads and writes.
DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Oneworld Publications, Point Blank, for providing a digital ARC of Bad Apples by Will Dean for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com
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