Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Something nasty in the woodshed - review of On Parson's Creek

Or more accurately, the title of this review should be 'something nasty in the woods', but I couldn't resist the quote from the incomparable Cold Comfort Farm.

I thought I might be a good target for Richard Sutton's On Parson's Creek (no relation to the American soap opera, Dawson's Creek), as I love a touch of the strange, and some of my favourite books are those by, for instance Ray Bradbury, which portray a kind of magical look back at boyhood, although in this case it's more teenhood, with all the uncomfortable difficulties that particular time of life throws up. And I was right.

Sutton does an excellent job of portraying the brooding atmosphere of the dark woods in which the protagonist finds himself, recently moved in with his family and coping with the difficulties of a new school; making new friends at the same time as exploring this uncanny backwoods location. In parts the storytelling oozes atmosphere, particularly in the scenes with the old railroad locomotive.

What starts off as a classic 'young people discover strange things and try to sort it out without involving adults' tale takes some interesting twists as the discoveries get mixed up with Indian legend and the possibility that the woods are home to something like a tribe of Bigfoot.

Although the main character is a teenager, I had no problem getting absorbed by the book. My only real complaint was that Sutton doesn't give us enough. It's quite a short book, and I think he could have expanded the story to give it more drama and a more striking destination. In fact, in a way, the problem is that the storytelling is too realistic. This feels like what a real encounter with Bigfoot might be like, but I wanted more drama, more obstacles to overcome and more twists and turns in the plot.

Since they always say 'Leave them wanting more,' this surely is a relatively small omission on the part of the author. That apart it's a book I really enjoyed.

You can find On Parson's Creek at Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.

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