The Devil’s Colony by Bill Schweigart
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Bigger, better (maybe?) and even more gruesome (definitely), the third and final book in Bill Schweigart’s Fatal Folklore Trilogy is a brilliant conclusion to what has become one of my favorite horror series. I’m really going to miss Ben and Lindsay but I honestly don’t know how Schweigart could possibly top that.
Note: as this is the third book in the series this review contains spoilers for the previous stories. If you haven’t read them go get them now (honestly they are a bargain) or go read my review of the first book The Beast of Barcroft here.
You would think by now that people would know better than to venture into the woods at night particularly when there are rumors of something lurking. However that is just how this story begins. It’s an echo back to the first two books where yet again there is a monster just waiting for someone to come close enough.
After this chilling and slightly gruesome beginning the story slows right back down as we catch up with our group of monster hunters. Ben and Lindsay are trying (and largely failing) to settle back into a semi normal life after the events of the previous book while wealthy cryptozoologist Richard Severence may have found love. Severence discovers however that his old mentor Henry Drexler has appeared in the Jersey Pine Barrons, in a private compound that welcomes all, providing they are Neo Nazi, racist militants.
When Severence begins to suspect that there may be something in the woods around the complex he believes Drexler may have used his research to summon a monster. Ben and Lindsay are sent in undercover to try and figure out what’s really happening.
I absolutely adore the partnership between Ben and Lindsay so having them go undercover as a couple was definitely the highlight of the story for me. It’s not necessarily the most exciting part of the story, and there’s very little in the way of horror if that’s what you’re looking for (although there are some sudden and violent deaths) but honestly I could quite happily read 300 pages of Lindsay and Ben bantering in the pub (can we get that book please Mr Schweigart?).
I did however really enjoy their undercover investigation. There’s something fascinating about cults (which is essentially what it is) and leader Henry Drexler is a wonderfully complex character. Outwardly friendly and approachable and extremely charismatic there’s something very dodgy about him. There are also a number of different factions within the camp which make it difficult to know what to think and there are just enough twists to keep you guessing.
The build up in tension is very gradual but the climax of the story is incredible in its scale. I won’t say too much but if the first book was a neighbourhood, the second a town I think you can guess what comes next. With it being the third and final book you know that there is no character who is safe and I spent most of my time worrying they’d meet their end. One thing you do know for certain is that you can expect the unexpected and the author definitely has some surprises up his sleeve.
The end of the book is absolutely action packed but for me it was actually the earlier parts of the story that worked better. What I love in a horror story is not the gruesome murders, the violence and the blood and gore but the creep factor and it’s the first part that’s by far the creepiest. Once the monster comes out of the dark it’s always a lot less scary.
What always works best for me in this series is the characters. Ben is the every man character. He doesn’t have any real skills, he puts his foot in his mouth and offends just about everyone he meets but there’s something very likeable about him. Lindsay is a zoologist, so is definitely more qualified than Ben but is developing a bit of an attitude as a result of her experiences. They complement each other wonderfully and while Ben would probably like the relationship to go in a romantic direction they’ve become almost like family. The whole team in fact are becoming almost like family and I love the way they bicker and argue but always have each others backs.
I am sad this series has ended as I loved the characters so much but it’s probably right that it finished the way it did. It was the perfect send off.
I will however be looking out for whatever the author writes next.
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC. As always all views are my own.