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St. Neith

St. Neith by David Watkins from @DemainPubUK #BookReview #Horror #IndiePub

St. Neith by David Watkins

Demain Publishing, ebook, £2.50

Reviewed by Sarah Deeming

The front cover for St. Neith by David Watkins. There is an up close image of a spider in a photography negative style in the middle of the page.

Daniel plans to spend the day in the nearby forest with his friends. But when they get under the trees, something isn’t quite right. The forest is too quiet. A deer has been killed. There is a sticky white substance blocking their way out. Very quickly, Daniel and his friends find themselves trapped in the cocooned forest, and their survival depends on outrunning something with more legs than them.

Spiders, why did it have to be spiders? When the book opens, the main character, Daniel, is watching a zombie movie, one of my favourites, so I was set up for zombies and was quite happy with that. But very quickly, our expectations are managed as Daniel and his friends come across a dead deer in the forest that looks as if its innards have been sucked out and all the paths out of the forest have been covered in a white, sticky substance.

From that moment, I was hooked. The story had everything: fear, the familiar becoming unfamiliar and things hidden unseen overhead, family tensions, loss of innocence, and regrets. The three characters, Daniel, Shane and Erin, go through all the stages of panic before working together to survive, and I really rooted for them.

As with Watkins’ other work that I’ve reviewed, The Exeter Incident, St. Neith makes good use of location to build atmosphere and tension. Shane has lived close to the woods his whole life and knows them well; we feel his panic when he can’t find his way home. I shared Daniel’s panic when he ran through the forest with the sound of eight legs thumping through the undergrowth, chasing him. Watkins taps into a very primordial fear most people have and exploits it.

St. Neith reminded me of Stephen King’s The Mist, a concise, clean story about a fear so deeply embedded in us that we struggle to rationalize or overcome it even though we know it is ridiculous. That Watkins can achieve so much in a short number of pages speaks of his skill as a storyteller and a master of the horror genre. He is definitely on my list of authors to look out for. St. Neith is highly recommended and a bargain at the price.

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