The Dead Path by Stephen M. Irwin

After losing his wife in a freak accident, Nicholas Close  begins seeing ghosts. Not just ghosts; deaths. Anywhere he goes where there’s been an unexpected death, Nicholas is able to see it, over and over again. As he lives in England he constantly sees the deaths of centuries of people. So he decides to move back to Australia, the home of his youth.

The very night he returns strange happenings begin to occur. A young boy goes missing from the neighborhood where Nicholas is staying and is later found murdered, a childhood acquaintance commits suicide on his doorstep and he is more and more drawn into “the woods”, a eerie and thickly wooded area that lured him as a child, yet also naturally repels.

As he begins to explore the mysteries that surround him he realizes that true evil lurks in, not only the woods, but the city of Brisbane and has for 100 years. He’s joined by his sister and a reverend in discovering what has been kidnapping and killing children in Brisbane and why. Combining witchcraft, pagan beliefs, Christian doctrine and good old-fashioned horror tactics this novel delivers page-turning, chilling suspense. As with all horror novels the reader does have to buy into a bit of preposterousness,  but once you get beyond the slight silliness it is a great story.

The writing is dense and descriptive and calmly flows as it takes the reader through the story. I liked the incorporation of pagan rites and religion in the story and the addition of Nicholas’ sister, who is a witch. I liked that the story draws more on the idea of ancient evil than on gore or serial killers. I don’t know if horror fans would like this, but it is the perfect book for non-horror readers who want something spooky.

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