The Dead Path by Stephen M. Irwin


The Dead Path by Stephen M. Irwin
Publisher/Year: Doubleday, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 374
Rating: 🌟🌟🌟



How long has it been since a novel sent chills up your spine? The Dead Path is a tour de force debut of visceral imagination and taut suspense–featuring the creepiest setting since the sewers in Stephen King’s It.

A haunting visage peering out from the trees sends Nicholas Close tumbling from his motorcycle–setting in motion a series of terrible events that leave him a widower surrounded by startling hallucinations. There is no other way to say it: he sees ghosts. They don’t say a word, but they are seemingly forced to repeat their final, harrowing moments in an endless loop before his eyes.

Fearing for his sanity, and with nowhere else to go, Nicholas returns home to his childhood home. Tallong is a sleepy suburb filled with an eccentric cast of characters and a host of memories from his past…all leading to the overgrown woods on Carmichael Road. As Nicholas attempts to reconnect with his estranged family, he becomes entangled in a disturbing series of disappearances and murders. He is now both a police suspect and the target of a malignant force that draws him to an old secret waiting in the heart of the woods. To stop the town’s violent history from repeating itself, Nicholas will have to face his greatest fears and discover what lies at the end of the path.

The Dead Path is the kind of chilling debut readers love to discover. Stephen M. Irwin’s electric use of language, memorable characters, and suspenseful pacing add up to a creepy, can’t-put-it-down tale full of twists and turns, building up to a surprising and unforgettable conclusion.


What I thought

I should know better than to fall for a “this is the next Stephen King” blurb. I wanted to like this a lot more than I did.

I really did enjoy this story. Being that I’m deathly afraid of spiders, I did find myself getting genuinely creeped out. Honestly, the story is what kept me reading. I just had to know what was going to happen. Even though I wasn’t particularly attached to any of the characters (other than Hannah, whom I adored), I still wanted to see how their fates turned out. And that ending? It was pure gold–totally unexpected & it gave me goosebumps.

Where this book fell flat for me was the writing. SO many people have praised it, so maybe I’m just missing something. The style was just not for me. It was overly descriptive, and what I mean by that is not that he went into too much detail, but that he used all these metaphors that just didn’t click for me. It felt like reaching, like he was trying too hard to be profound. For me, this kept jarring me out of the story, so it felt like I was slugging through this book. Like I said, though, many people love his writing, it just wasn’t to my taste.

Overall, this may not have completely worked for me, but I still think this was a strong debut. If you enjoy horror novels, give this one a try & I promise, you’ll never look at the woods the same! One last note, this book has a beautiful design, including a creepy cover with glow-in-the-dark words!