Book Review : The Beast of Barcroft by Bill Schweigart

The Beast of BarcroftThe Beast of Barcroft by Bill Schweigart
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A gripping, sometimes scary and enjoyable read about a creature that lurks in the dark. It’s definitely got me looking over my shoulder and staying away from the woods at night. Loved it.

When I was in my late teens I used to love books by Dean Koontz and James Herbert and while I don’t remember them too well this reminds me a lot of some of my favourite James Herbert stories.

It’s set in a quiet and friendly neighbourhood in Barcroft, Arlington where the residents are up in arms about one particular neighbour Madeleine Roux. Madeleine is the local crazy lady, rescuer of raccoons, feeder of pigeons and the reason why the neighbourhood has become infested with rats and other creatures. The county can’t do anything so the residents are understandably frustrated.

For next door neighbour Ben McKelvie it’s more or less the last straw. He moved in with his fiancé about a year ago following the death of his father and what was supposed to be a move up in the world turned into a bit of a nightmare. Struggling to cope with his grief and the crazy lady next door his fiancé Rachel leaves him with only his greyhound Bucky for company and some happy pills to keep him from losing it completely.

When a creature attacks and kills his dog one night however it seems that something much scarier has been drawn to the neighbourhood by the vermin. Other pets disappear and then things start to escalate with the death of one of the neighbours in mysterious circumstances. With none of the police believing him about the creature that killed his dog, Ben and zoologist Lindsay Clark begin tracking it but is it really an animal or something far more sinister?

It was only when I was reading this that I realised how much I missed this kind of book. I love a story that is genuinely creepy and somehow feels like it could be true. The story is partially based on events that happened in that area 40 years ago when 23 pets went missing from the area. They did solve that mystery (and it was less horrifying than in this story) but there always seem to be sightings of big cats or other large animals lurking close to civilisation which is something I find quite scary (especially as there is supposedly one near me).

The story itself is really well written and the author does a great job of getting the pacing just right so that the tension builds throughout. Sometimes with stories such as this it can get a bit slow in the middle or become repetitive but that isn’t the case here. It twists and turns and keeps you guessing till almost the very end.

The characters were well defined and likeable. Ben in particular was very easy to relate to especially in his reaction to the events that occur. He starts out pretty depressed and miserable but somehow seems to find some kind of purpose and determination or possibly realises he hasn’t much left to lose as the story progresses. Zoologist Lindsay Clark and Police Officer Cushing add a bit of romantic interest but more importantly represent strong, intelligent and independent women rather than damsels in distress. They are less than impressed with Ben which results in some very amusing dialogue and was another of my favourite parts of this book.

I get the feeling that this is the first in a series and I think it’s definitely one to watch out for.

Overall a fast paced, well written story which if you’re anything like me will give you the odd chill. There is the odd gory death so maybe avoid if you’re squeamish but otherwise I’d definitely recommend.

I received an advance copy from NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group – Hydra so big thanks.

6 thoughts on “Book Review : The Beast of Barcroft by Bill Schweigart

  1. […] I’ve been on holiday from work for the last week so I’ve managed to finish a few books. As well as the first two books in the King Arthur series, Enthroned and Enchanted, I also finished the two books I was midway through last week, The Beast of Barcroft by Bill Schweigart and What Might Have Been by Matt Dunn. I was pleasantly surprised by the Beast of Barcroft which is a monster lurking in the woods type of story. It reminded me of the horror stories I used to read in my late teens. You can find my full review here. […]


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