They Stalk the Night by Brian Moreland
Terror stalks the remote snowbound forests and communities of Minnesota
Brian Moreland published his first novel back in 2006 and is one of those authors who deserves much more coverage in the horror press than he probably gets. I have read the majority of his seven novels, with my favourite being the awesome Tomb of Gods, which was one of top tips of 2020. In his latest the author abandons dangerous islands (see another cool read Savage Island), spooky Egyptian tombs and instead takes his readers to the snowbound deepest, darkest Minnesota, close to the Canadian border. You are going to need your winter woollies for this one!
I really enjoyed They Stalk the Night, an immensely entertaining creature feature with an admirably high body count which begins to tick in the brutal prologue. Its detractors will undoubtedly say this novel does nothing new, which is absolutely true, being little more than a spin on the well-trodden Wendigo story. However, Moreland is too skilled a storyteller to simply reheat old plots and instead delivers a fast-paced horror, seen from multiple third person perspectives. It starts fast with a bloodthirsty kill and for the most part keeps than pace going whilst dipping in and out of the lives of multiple characters some which are more likable than others.
This is not a deep book (except for the snow) and if you like monster novels then this is a treat. Some of the advance notices compared it to Adam Nevill’s The Ritual, but that modern classic is much slower, descriptive and atmospheric than this, which is pacier and more of a lighter speed read. The comparison to 30 Days of Night is more accurate, with the local inhabitants of the two neighbouring towns being picked off by a vicious beast being not too dissimilar to the isolated town in 30 Days.
They Stalk the Night kicks off with an oil corporation building a pipeline through Minnesota looking to make new links into Canada. However, to construct the most productive route they must destroy an ancient burial ground and in doing so they awaken something very nasty. Interestingly, we find out that this awakening happened some years earlier and that a few characters had lived through it first time around, this was slightly odd and it felt like I was reading a sequel of some kind. The previous incident had been hushed up and beyond the town limits nobody else knew about the monster, which was treated as some sort of myth by the local kids. Rather than spinning the usual indigenous American story the plot has a Scandinavian feel which connects to Norse mythology and the early settlers from that region of Europe.
The action jumps between various residents of the two towns Deer Haven and Hellum who have reacted differently to the pipeline, some embracing the new job opportunities it brings, whilst others aware of the dangers blasting in the wrong place might bring. A fair part of the story revolves around Shelby, one of the most memorable characters, a young mother struggling with her distant husband, who poaches in the local forests with his best friend Kujak, who makes a clumsy and aggressive pass at her early in the story. Shelby’s father is the owner of the pipeline company and because these towns are very small everybody is connected to each other in one way or another.
The poaching story becomes a significant part of the narrative and interconnects with the local police who turn a blind eye and the retired chief who has to step up to face the creature for a second time. This is one of those stories where some of the humans were every bit as unpleasant as the monster and the scenes in which Shelby tried to protect her two tiny children crackled with tension and threat. As this is America, everybody has guns and a lot of them. I loved the location, with some of the forest scenes where very seasoned hunters (and ex-military) some up against the beast were really terrific as they were viciously picked off. Adding even more edge to proceedings was the fact that the monster did not devoir everybody he killed, but you will have to read it yourself to find out why.
If you are after snowbound terror then They Stalk the Night is a dread filled atmospheric treat which takes lots of familiar horror ingredients, gives them a good shake, and delivers a gleefully gory blood-filled monster novel. Set over the Christmas period, the cheer of Santa is very far away and survival the only gift the terrified inhabitants are after.
They Stalk the Night by Brian Moreland
Fans of The Ritual by Adam Nevill and action-packed horror movies like Demons and 30 Days of Night will love this new chiller from the author of Tomb of Gods.
During a winter storm, a ravenous beast preys upon the people of a remote town and a pipeline construction company. Among them, a predatorial psychopath welcomes a master as cold and dark as his heart. Following a trail of carnage, retired police chief Sam Larsen, along with a hellbent group of men and a corrupt sheriff, desperately try to stop the beast before its contagious hunger spreads to others. A young mother, trapped inside her isolated home with her children, must do everything in her power to survive the night.
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