I am not a big horror fan. Movie-wise anyways. I didn’t grow up watching Texas Chainsaw or Saw, except when I was forced to at sleepovers and didn’t want to seem like a chicken. Even then, I was a master at hiding behind my hands. It’s not that I don’t like to be scared, I just don’t like being jolted. Thankfully, horror literature has all the creepy crawly fun of the genre without making you leap out of your skin. Moving on from the likes of Tony Burgess and Joe Hill, I knew I needed to read The Troop by Nick Cutter, a Simon and Schuster release from a literary Canlit novelist who has adopted a pseudonym for this truly revolting story of nature versus science.
5 teenaged Boy Scouts and their Scoutmaster go to an small uninhabited island off the coast of PEI for a weekend camping trip, something they’ve been doing for years. But the evening they arrive, a mysterious and sickly man appears on the island as well…. Straight away, we know that this is a classic case of the wrong-place-wrong-time scenario where isolation and human psychology are met with something very unnatural, causing a desperate fight for survival.
Vague much? I know, I know. But I don’t want to give too much away since, as usual, I didn’t know anything about the story before I started reading it and it made for a thrilling and thoroughly chilling experience. That is the beauty of a “story of terror”, because terror, as a rule, lies in the unknown. Do yourself a favour and leave the details unspoiled. What I will say though is that for a novel that initially focuses itself on hunger, it totally destroyed my appetite. Like, beat-up-and-shredded-to-pieces-RUINED for a good 24 hours. The Troop is not to be read before dinnertime, as Steven Beattie rightfully warned me. It’s also not for the squeamish. Cutter is graphic in every sense of the word: detailed, shocking, and very effective. You can really chew on his descriptions (not that you would want to based on the subject matter). Though his characters may have started out like the quintessential Boy Scout stereotypes (the nerd, the jock, the weirdo, the mental case) they quickly become rounded by stories from their pasts and the individual reactions to their awful situation. This is exactly the kind of writer that you want when you’re embarking on a creepy, disgusting journey. Someone who not only presents his story seamlessly, but is also able to describe every little off-putting inch of his world with excitable ease. Reading The Troop, you are truly strapped in for the ride. With a sense of foreboding obvious within a few short pages, the story never slows down and neither will you.