July 15, 2011

Rabid Reads: "The Wild Hunt" by Jared Sandman

The Wild Hunt
Self-published (2010)
Available via: Amazon

Everything has a past, and more often than not those things can have a dark aspect to their past that gets swept under the rug over the years until it becomes myth or urban legend. Sometimes a bridge carries the stigma of hosting more than a couple suicides. Sometimes a fixer-upper purchased by a young family was the site of a grizzly murder. And sometimes a birthright that's more of a curse can stain the lineage of a family for generations. In this haunting novel by Jared Sandman, it's the family curse of several townsfolk that becomes the focus.

Jared Sandman's The Wild Hunt offers a ghostly tale of a young couple trapped in a small town as it contends with a long forgotten curse that has come back to prey on the descendants of the townsfolk connected to the curse and the Lord of the Hunt.

Erik and Allie Herne are newlyweds moving from the city of Minneapolis to the small town of Wodanfield, into the old farmhouse Ellie inherited from her abusive uncle. It's supposed to be an idyllic new start in their relationship, strained by Erik's career and Allie's mental illness. They don't even see the house together for the first time before they see a large, shadowy creature stalking along the treeline. And when they meet their neighbor, Ivan Hertz, it doesn't take long to figure out things are askew in the small town. For starters, no one celebrates Christmas, holing themselves up in their homes at night for some unspoken reason.

Enter the Lord of the Hunt and his band of horsemen from beyond the grave. They're hunting down townsfolk in a seemingly random manner, but there's a purpose to their carnage, and the Hernes discover they are connected to it all somehow--and become targets themselves.

It's a strong premise, and I'm a sucker for a good ghost story, particularly when in a small town or rural setting. This novel fell flat with me, though. I didn't hate it, but I found there were interminable stretches of stale dialogue and extraneous exposition that really bogged down the pace and intensity of the story for me. Some of the stuff with the horsemen was really good, even with some murkiness to their motivations in the beginning. It just wasn't enough to hold my interest.

Sandman has a new novel coming out in August to follow up his three preceding efforts, so I might have to try that one some time down the line and hope I take to it better than I did with this novel.

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