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Library JournalAlmost as creepy as Elizabeth and Alex Lluch’s The Ultimate Wedding Planning Guide (Wedding Solutions, 2009), this Australian novel plonks grieving widower Nicholas face-first into a gothic fairy story that sets him up against a supernatural force in the body of a witch. The title refers to a track leading into the proverbial dark wood where weird things happen, including the long-ago murder of Nick’s best friend Tristram and the recent death of a young girl. Reluctantly, Nick investigates but it just gets worse the deeper he goes. A bright light appears in the shapely form of Rowena Quill, local shopkeeper. Damned if there isn’t something familiar about her. Wait, something similar to the story’s skanky, evil witch? And if you ever thought it would be cool to have second sight, think again. All it does for Nick is turn on a perpetual loop of ghosts reliving their violent and untimely deaths. Yes, the book’s full of horrible things. But the most horrible is how Irwin lets readers care about characters whom he then kills. Readers will admire—and be repelled by—Irwin’s images: “Clouds, heavy as slate and swollen like the underbellies of diseased beasts.” Featuring spiders the size of small dogs.
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