Flame Tree. 2019. 256p. ISBN 9781787581807. $24.95; pap. ISBN 9781787581784. $14.95. HORROR
Shea (The Montauk Monster) demonstrates his abiding love for the slasher genre in this new novel, masterfully deploying and upending horror traditions and tropes. Todd’s fiancée, Ashley, was the “final girl” survivor of a killing spree during an urban exploration adventure at a long-abandoned Catskills Mountains resort. Unable to recover from the ordeal, Ashley dies by suicide, prompting Todd and their friends to return to the retreat in an attempt to understand her experience and uncover the killer’s identity. Unfortunately, they aren’t alone. The killer is ready for round two, and soon blood is spurting and limbs are flying. The tense build up to the group’s return to the camp provides effective emotional weight and adds to the backstory, and though deceased, Ashley continues to drive the plot via a series of clues she left behind. The twist at the end might make the novel more appealing to some, while diminishing the tension for others.
VERDICT Recommend to fans of slasher flicks and readers who can stomach explicit gore.

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