Book: “Silence in the Woods” by J.P. Choquette
Publishing Info: Self Published, April 2019
Where Did I Get This Book: I received a paperback copy from the author.
Book Description: In 1917, four friends and photojournalists set out in the woods looking for answers. Why have so many hikers and hunters gone missing in the area of Shiny Creek Trail?
The two couples anticipate a great adventure, one they’ll tell their kids about someday. No one imagines the evil lurking in a remote cave. A horrifying discovery leaves one person dead and two others missing.
Two months later, Paul, one of the four, returns to the forest to find his wife. But will he find her before someone-or something-finds him?
Silence in the Woods is the long-awaited prequel to Shadow in the Woods, and delves into the frightening territory of the supernatural and the human mind.
Review: Thank you to J.P. Choquette for sending me a copy of this novel!
I remember there was one time that I was at my previous library job where I got a text from an old coworker from one of my previous museum jobs (libraries and museums, you know that’s right). One of the sites I used to work at was Fort Snelling, which had a state park nestled next to the old fort with lots of nature and trails. My old coworker told me that there were honest to God Bigfoot hunters in the park that day, and sent me a picture of their truck that boasted as such. While Minnesota isn’t exactly known for Bigfoot sightings (the closest we get to interesting cryptid beasts are Dog Men and a Monster in Lake Pepin), I was utterly charmed by the idea, as I love the idea of a gentle ape like creature like Bigfoot (and yes, I prefer GENTLE Bigfoot tales, as a rule). So when author J.P. Choquette reached out to me asking if I would be interested in reviewing any of her horror novels, when I saw that Bigfoot was a plot point, I was eager to read “Silence in the Woods”! I mean, you got Bigfoot, AND you have two couples going for a hike in the woods to investigate missing person reports… only to run afoul nature themselves. Sign me up! Especially since they also run into Bigfoot!
I’m focusing a lot on the Sasquatch elements of this story, but “Silence in the Woods” is also a survival horror tale that brings in other supernatural elements and threats, and I was super entertained the entire time I was reading it. It’s told though different third person perspectives, and jumps a bit through time to tell of two couples, Paul and Jane, and Deidre and Allan, who go hiking along the Shiny Creek Trail. From the get go we find out that this trip did not go well, and that Paul was the only one to leave the woods, but has found himself in an asylum because of what he says happened. Then we see him try to find his way back to look for Jane, as well as seeing how everything fell apart for the group of friends. The narrative structure is complex but not overly so, and we get a fair amount of time with each of the characters that we get a feel for who they are. I found myself easily invested in Paul’s search for his wife, as well as invested in Jane and the strange things she is seeing on their initial walk in the woods.
And in terms of plot and horror elements, “Silence in the Woods” implied that it was going in one direction, but ended up going in another, which worked pretty well. Now I know that this is a labeled as a ‘prequel’ to the next book in the series, “Shadow in the Woods”, and I wonder that had I read that one first that I may not have been as surprised by that, but as it was I liked being red herring’d in terms of what the horror elements are in this book. Mysterious human like creatures aside, there are other, more insidious things lurking in the woods. And even worse, we also have nature to contend with on top of all that! Choquette pulls a lot of scares and thrills from numerous places in this book, and I was kept on the edge of my seat as I read, wondering who would survive, and what would happen to those who didn’t. And yes, Bigfoot plays a role, and I don’t want to spoil anything for those who want to seek it out, but I really liked the moments that this cryptid was on the page, as well as the ways that our various characters interacted with it.
We’re still in the thick of Halloween season, y’all, and if you are looking for a quick and breezy creature feature to read “Silence in the Woods” may be a good match! I’m definitely going to look into reading more of Choquette’s “Monsters in the Green Mountains” stories, and this was a good place to start, chronological or not.
Rating 8: A quick read with survival horror, supernatural scares, and Bigfoot, “Silence in the Woods” is an entertaining page turner!
“Silence in the Woods” isn’t available at any libraries as of yet, but you can find a copy through various retailers at J.P. Choquette’s website.