[REVIEW] The Stranger – by Steve Stred

Is it me or is there something about the woods that just creeps you the hell out? The paranoia, The isolation, The bluntness and finality of knowing you’re either getting out or not? 

Steve Stred’s The Stranger takes all of your childhood fears of the forest and manifest them into a story that is dark, violent, and for me, cathartic. 

We follow our main character Malcolm and his family as they take their annual trip to their cabin. 

During the day the family is out on the lake, seeking out undiscovered treasures they’d yet to find on their previous trips. And when the sun goes down, things are immediately spooky and unsettling. The thing in the trees, The Stranger, has all of the creepy elements of being nightmare fuel. I specifically liked the night scenes and the scares that came with them. Each event becoming more threatening leading to ensuing chaos. 

This tale also dives into some of the relevant and pressing issues of our current society, weaving its way into the horrors of the forest as much as it does into your conscience. I respect Steve for tackling these issues and giving them life to breathe. The afterword also had some good personal statements on why Steve chose the topic he did. 

I want to go on record by saying that Steve has written some scenes in this story that had me checking over my shoulder before falling asleep. Making sure nothing was creeping in the corner in the room watching. There is a skin scene I’ll never forgot and some violent death scenes all together, I loved it all. 

Lastly, and a MINOR SPOILER, I really enjoyed the back story of The Stranger and the parallels of the beginning of times. This brought some light to the all encompassing darkness The Stranger was throughout the story. 

I really enjoyed this tale and look forward to more of Steve’s work in the future. ~ Garrett

5/5

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