Title: The Clan
Author: Steven Hamling
Genre: Thrillers / Suspense / Horror
The Clan is a horror novel that brings us deep into the forest of Cedarwoods, Alaska, where a creature lurks. Hunting, camping, and lodging are common in the woods, but when people begin showing up mauled by an especially vicious “bear”, suspicions begin to arise. As the characters realize that this creature, whatever it is, is hunting with a purpose, it’s a group effort to figure out what it is and how to stop it for good.
The Clan’s first chapter comes straight out of a classic horror movie: two teenagers pitch a tent in the dark woods, without a care in the world when a mysterious bear-like creature attacks them. Including more captivating descriptions and sensory details in this first chapter could’ve started off the book with an even greater impact, helping to launch readers into this unexpected story.
The creature, the novel’s main antagonist, is a unique monster—not exactly Hamling’s own creation—but it is a well-known mythical creature that isn’t often used in horror novels. Because of this, the storyline feels fresh and intriguing to read. Though there is suspense and tension that builds throughout the book, it is ultimately the slasher elements that make this a stand-out novel.
The creature has its own point of view in the book, so there are several sections throughout the novel that include its perspective of the events happening. Unfortunately, we were left desiring more from this perspective simply because it didn’t dive deep enough to develop the creature’s characterization. This could have been an opportunity to give the creature personalities, relationships, and showcase their interpersonal dynamics and communication. Though this is an interesting concept, the creature’s narrative voice needed to be more fleshed out in order for it to work well within the story.
There is a laundry list of characters in this book—all of them are related to each other or connected to each other—which may take readers some time to adjust to. Because there are many characters, not all of them have fully developed characterizations.
The strongest part of the book is the last half. Fast paced and action-packed, these high-energy scenes will keep readers on the edge of their seat as they reach the book’s climax and see it through to the end. In addition, the last half of the book includes more depth from the characters.
As fear and exhaustion from fighting against the monsters take a toll on the characters, we see more vulnerable sides to them. The layers are pulled back, and we are able to connect with each individual more deeply. With their lives on the line, and others’ lives lost, the relationships between the characters are also fleshed out and there are some impactful, emotional moments. Hamling intertwines all the characters’ storylines to create clarity and closure.
This book contains light nudity and brief sexual content as well as graphic scenes that include blood and gore. Because of the nature of the content, this book is recommended for mature audiences.
The Clan is a blood-and-guts-filled horror novel that readers of slasher novels and viewers of quick-and-fast horror movies will love. The Clan presents a fresh take on a traditional monster that is equally frightening as it is fascinating. With gruesome visuals, a fast-moving pace, and an unexpected narrator, The Clan has all the ingredients for a one-of-a-kind horror novel that will intrigue and thrill readers.
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