Friday, 7 October 2016

REVIEW: Patrick Lacey - Dream Woods

Genre: Horror
Publisher: Sinister Grin Press
Publication Date: 1st October 2016
Pages: 135


A copy of Dream Woods by Patrick Lacey, was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the publisher, Sinister Grin Press, via Hook of a Book Media and Publicity in exchange for an honest review. This is said review.

Sinister Grin is a press I respect a lot. They put out some wonderful books and seem to be on the pulse when it comes to how they operate, and how they look after their authors. That needs to be commended when talking about a smaller, up and coming press. Especially in today’s climate, when so many small, and also bigger presses, seem to be falling by the wayside.

They also seem to be getting their hands on some wonderful authors at the minute. One of those is Patrick Lacey. This is a young man who I have previously tipped for big things in the horror world so I was delighted to get an opportunity to read and review his latest novella, Dream Woods.

This is what I thought.

Vince is an ex punk. Covered in tattoos that he needs to keep hidden for his new life as an accountant, he lives for his family. He is also trying to keep his family together. His wife, Audra, doesn’t seem happy and he suspects she wants to leave. He would be right. He sees an opportunity to try and make things better when he sees a billboard advertising the reopening of his favourite ever place from his childhood, Dream Woods Amusement park. This could be perfect for himself, Audra, and their two boys, Tim and Andrew.

Author Regina Michaels, is working on her latest book. It is about Dream Woods. She wants to expose the truth about it’s dark past. She should know all about it. She used to work there.

When circumstances throw them all together, they must join forces to try and survive the evil that lurks within the gates of Dream Woods.

The main characters in this one have all been mentioned already. Vince and Audra met when they were younger. Vince sang in a punk band and Audra fell for him whilst he was doing this. They got together and had the kids. Vince still has the old punk inside of him but will live any life as long as his family are happy. Audra wants out. She selfishly does not enjoy her current life and just wants the old punk days back. Tim and Andrew are twins. Tim is diabetic and seems to get all of the family attention while Andrew gets left in the shade. No one seems to see this as important, apart from the resentful Andrew.

Regina has a very dark past and it has shaped her life ever since. She has been successful in her own rite but this book about Dream Woods is something she must complete. If not for her own sanity, then to tell the world the truth. Determined and tough is how she comes across.

The evil side of things are run by The Director. He is a man that is very mysterious but very noticeably evil to the max. I cannot tell you anything else without giving stuff away so that is all you are getting.

The plot is simple. The family take a trip to Dream Woods and everything seems to be going very well, until The Director’s plans come into effect. Once this happens, they all need to try and survive as best they can.

This story is just fantastic. It’s like the ultimate horror flick from the early 80’s which is quite amazing because I doubt Patrick Lacey was born then to witness them first hand. He must have watched them since. Think Charlie and The Chocolate Factory made by Rob Zombie with a John Carpenter soundtrack. That’s what you get with Dream Woods.

Opening with an insight into Vince’s life with Audra and his wonderful memories of visiting Dream Woods as a child, it gives you a perfect introduction to the story and, through Vince’s enthusiasm and excitement to get back to the happy days he had as a child, it builds things perfectly to give you a buzz of anticipation and a desire to get to the park and enjoy the rides yourself.

As is the norm, Patrick Lacey introduces his characters with just enough detail to give you an idea of their make-up and what to expect from them in the story. This is something I have noticed about his writing before. It is something I like a lot. He has this knack of getting you inside their heads in a second. You feel like you have known them for years. To have you feeling such empathy with made up people this quickly in a novella is, for me, mind boggling.

I want to tell you so much about this story but it just wouldn’t be fair on you because it would most definitely spoil things for you. I will try to give you a flavour of what it is like without the detail.

This imaginary theme park Mr Lacey has created is huge. It’s absolutely vast. If you let your imagination go wild, it has a beautiful, wondrous backdrop with all the magic of the fair in the middle with the most up to date rollercoasters and rides in the world. It is full of fun and frolics for all the family.

Flip to the dark side and it is bleak beyond words. The beautiful backdrop becomes one of jagged, grey mountains with a constant rumble of thunder in the background and grey roiling clouds. In the middle it is full of rides powered by unimaginable things with beasts and monsters running amok. This alternate world actually did give me a nightmare the night I finished the book.

I can’t remember the last time I had a nightmare after reading a book. It has been a couple of years. To me, this demonstrates just how much this story affected me. It definitely tapped into my innermost fears and gave them a great big poke with a sharp stick.

Job done Mr Lacey.

To summarise: a family trip turns into an absolute nightmare in a theme park from hell. With wonderful characters and descriptive writing that will give you vivid images in your head, this is a must buy story if you have a few hours to kill and want to have your pants scared off!

General rating:

★★★★★ enough said.

Horror rating:

★★★★★ enough said twice.

If you would like to help support Confessions of a Reviewer, then please consider using the links below to buy Dream Woods or any other books from Patrick. This not only supports me but also lets me know how many people actually like to buy books after reading my reviews.


Book Synopsis:

Follow your screams…

When Vince Carter takes a shortcut to work he notices a billboard that nearly sends him into an oncoming van.

The ad is for Dream Woods, New England’s answer to Disney World. It closed decades ago, but now that it’s back in business, Vince is eager to take his whole family, hoping the magic he remembers will save his failing marriage.

His wife, Audra, isn’t so sure. She’s heard the rumors of why the place closed. Murder. Sacrifice. Torture. But those are just urban legends. Surely there’s nothing evil about a family tourist attraction.

The Carters are about to discover that the park’s employees aren’t concerned with their guests’ enjoyment. They’re interested in something else. Something much more sinister.

Welcome to Scream Woods!


Sleep Paralysis

Patrick Lacey was born and raised in a haunted house. He currently spends his nights and weekends writing about things that make the general public uncomfortable.

He lives in Massachusetts with his wife, his Pomeranian, his cat, and his muse, who is likely trying to kill him.

And for more about Patrick, visit his site or find him on social media:

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