REVIEW and EXCERPT
by D. Melhoff
Grimm Woods by D. Melhoff is currently on tour with Worldwind Virtual Book Tours. The tour stops here today for my review and an excerpt. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.
A remote summer camp becomes a lurid crime scene when the bodies of two teenagers are found in a bloody, real-life rendering of a classic Grimm’s fairy tale. Trapped in the wilderness, the remaining counsellors must follow a trail of dark children’s fables in order to outwit a psychopath and save the dwindling survivors before falling prey to their own gruesome endings.
Drawing on the grisly, uncensored details of history’s most famous fairy tales, Grimm Woods is a heart-pounding thriller about a deranged killer who uses traditional children’s stories as tropes in elaborate murders. Set against the backdrop of modern-day Michigan, it’s a journey through the mind of a dangerous zealot and a shocking glimpse into the bedtime stories you thought you knew.
July 7th, 5:44 a.m.
One hacksaw. One hammer, six boxes of nails. Twelve Mason jars, four hunting knives, two pairs of handcuffs. Fifteen gallons of gasoline divided evenly among three dented jerry cans.
A work glove hovered over the table where the objects were laid out side by side and began ticking the air as though marking off an invisible checklist. The chamber reeked of mildew, and the walls had no windows or electrical sockets—no lamps, no wires, no switch covers. A single red candle provided the only light, its crimson wax dripping down its shaft like blood.
The hand picked up a piece of paper from the table and slipped it into a blank envelope. Below, a beetle scuttled across the floorboards. The insect—its gangly antennae tuned to some foul frequency in the gloom—raced past the sole of a giant boot just as a drop of liquid fell through the air and struck it dead center, engulfing its body in a hot, gelatinous blob that filled its orifices and burned it from the inside out. Another droplet tumbled from the candle, plopping onto the envelope this time, and then a brass stamp came down and pressed the wax into a hardened seal.
Drawing in heavier, raspier breaths, the figure held the envelope up to a corkboard that was bolted to the wall. More than a dozen pictures of young men and women were tacked to the panel by their throats and foreheads, smiling in the shadows.
The figure pinned the envelope to the board and stepped back to take in the room again.
The table and the switchblade.
The book of matches.
The iron rods, the hatchet, the .22 Smith & Wesson.
The smiling faces.
Now, the figure mused, watching the photographs flicker in the bloodred light. Who’s the nicest, who’s the worst, who wants to hear a story first?
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]
Praise for the Book
"The literary equivalent of a slasher movie, one that garners its biggest frights with mere implication." ~ Kirkus Reviews
"Totally awesome book, I couldn't put it down! I love the authors style." ~ Jena Roy
"This is a horror story worthy of the master, Stephen King. It's the best novel I've read this year - and I've read dozens. One of the challenges of the fantasy genre is creating the fantasy world in which the story is set. Rather than the usual Gothic pile of the horror genre, Melhoff has created a holiday camp interwoven with fairy stories as his horror world. It works fantastically well. The writing is very good, disappearing from the page and building a dynamic three-dimensional image in my mind, film-like in its intensity. The structure is excellent. It's a long book, yet there are no boring passages. At no point was I tempted to put it down." ~ Avid Reader
"D Melhoff did an incredible job of bringing the Grimm Fairy Tales alive in such an exciting and captivating way in this book. This book sucked me in from the very beginning; I literally took it with me wherever I went to be able to continue reading. [...] Melhoff is obviously a talented and gifted writer with a great imagination and ability to put a twist on stories without driving away from the purpose of the story while still keeping the reader entranced." ~ BookJunkieMom
"Melhoff does an excellent job of writing horror. The use of fairy tales and the setting of a summer camp combine to lend a sense of nostalgia and familiarity to the story ... which is then shattered by the events. The author brings you into the world and leaves you wondering just who will be killed next. For those who love suspense novels that fall more on the horror side of the genre than your typical PI or crime novel, this is certainly a must read for you. You will be drawn in by the author's descriptive turns of phrase and the characters that populate the book." ~ Rhianona
By Lynda Dickson
Scott, a troubled young man who suffers from a recurring nightmare, signs up as a counselor at Camp Crownheart, a fairytale-themed summer camp. As well as the four staff, there are fourteen young counselors in all - who are more interested in partying than looking after the 55 kids. The murders start the first night and, with no telephone or means of getting outside help, the staff, counsellors, and children are virtually under siege. Upon finding an old copy of Grimm's Fairy Tales, Scott discovers that these stories are not as tame as the versions they are familiar with. The stories contain dark elements, torture, and death - no happily-ever-afters here. And they strangely mirror the murders that have been occurring around them. It's almost as if someone is trying to teach the counselors the lessons that are taught in the fairy tales.
From the outset, the author sets a creepy tone, as we watch our unknown serial killer plot the deaths of more than a dozen victims. Melhoff then proceeds to create a claustrophobic atmosphere, turning the idyllic camp setting into a harrowing nightmare for all involved. The author has an enviable vocabulary, as well as a remarkable ability to spin a yarn, maintain suspense, and create interest in the characters - even though they are all flawed. Through it all, Scott surprises us by growing as a person, from a sullen, aggressive, nicotine-crazed loser to a strong, compassionate, caring man.
Reading Grimm Woods, you won't know who you can trust or who will die next. This is one book you'll find hard to put down.
Warnings: drug use, sex scenes, sexual references, coarse language, graphic violence, gore, horror.
About the Author
D. Melhoff was born in a prairie ghost town that few people have heard of and even fewer have visited. While most of his stories are for adults, he also enjoys terrifying younger audiences from time to time, as seen in his series of twisted picture books for children. He credits King, Poe, Hitchcock, Harris, Stoker, and his second grade school teacher, Mrs. Lake, for turning him to horror.