"Moncrieff’s novel is a lightning-fast read, which is not a bad thing. She paints a vivid picture of the lost tribe and weaves her story arcs together brilliantly. She also sheds light on Native peoples’ treatment in both past and present, smoothly integrating the issue into the novel. Readers won’t want to put it down." Booklist
People are dying at Strong Lake, and the worst is yet to come.
An idyllic weekend camping trip is cut short when Reese Wallace s friends are brutally murdered. As the group s only survivor, Reese is the prime suspect, and his story doesn t make much sense. A disembodied voice warning him to leave the campground the night before? A strange, blackened tree that gave him an electric shock when he cut it down for firewood?
Detective Greyeyes isn t having any of it until she hears the voice herself and finds an arrowhead at the crime scene an arrowhead she can t get rid of. Troubling visions of a doomed Native American tribe who once called the campground home, and rumors of cursed land and a mythical beast plague the strangest murder case she s ever been a part of.
FLAME TREE PRESS is the new fiction imprint of Flame Tree Publishing. Launched in 2018 the list brings together brilliant new authors and the more established; the award winners, and exciting, original voices.
About the Author
J.H. Moncrieff's City of Ghosts won the 2018 Kindle Book Review Award for best Horror/Suspense. Reviewers have described her work as early Gillian Flynn with a little Ray Bradbury and Stephen King thrown in for good measure. She won Harlequin's search for "the next Gillian Flynn" in 2016. Her first published novella, The Bear Who Wouldn't Leave, was featured in Samhain's Childhood Fears collection and stayed on its horror bestsellers list for over a year.
When not writing, she loves exploring the world's most haunted places, advocating for animal rights, and summoning her inner ninja in muay thai class.
To get free ebooks and a new spooky story every week, go to http://bit.ly/MoncrieffLibrary.
Can you describe your writing process?
My writing process is a bit strange. It begins with an initial ideausually a “what if?” scenario. In a few days, a character will show up in my mind and begin telling me the story. My job is to write it down, almost like taking dictation. It feels like the character is a real person, separate from myself. I never have any idea where the story is going or how it will end. It’s always a surprise.
What are the underlying themes?
The main underlying theme is that the sins of the past will come back to haunt us, sometimes literally.
Did you base your characters on anyone you knew?
No, never, though I may borrow some names. Even if I start writing with someone I know or met in mind, the character quickly develops a life and personality of their own.
Who influenced you most in the writing of the book?
The earliest seeds of this book were planted by Ian Ross’s play, An Illustrated History of the Anishinabe, which tells stories of the horrible injustices done to North America’s indigenous people. A lot of these stories I did not know, and to say they disturbed me would be a huge understatement. Not enough people know about what happened, and I knew I would write about this one day. The most chilling horror in the world is the atrocities human beings perpetrate on other human beings (and other species, for that matter).
Is there any advice you can give someone starting to write?
Read a lot, write a lot, and submit your work. Submit, submit, submit. I’ve met so many talented writers who never send their work to anyone. Also, never give up. I’ve had some setbacks that stopped me from submitting my work for a long time, and I regret those lost years now. I’ve read posts from other writers saying that persistence and talent is not enoughyou need luck too. And that may be true, but the more often you’re putting yourself out there, the greater your chances of “getting lucky,” so to speak.
Where did you write?
It depends on the weather. If it’s warm out, I write outside on the deck, surrounded by birds and squirrels. If it’s colder, I write in the bath. (Seriously!)
You have written a lot about characters facing supernatural situations. And you have based several of these novels on real places that you have visited. Which of these has scared you the most? Why?
The scariest place I’ve ever visited was Poveglia, an island off the coast of Venice that is considered to be the world’s most haunted. I don’t spook easily, but I was terrified the entire time I was there. Not only was I completely alone on the island, I was there during a violent thunderstorm. Poveglia has a truly chilling history. Although nothing overt happened to me–I didn’t see a ghost–there were definitely a lot of strange, unexplained sounds and a very strong sensation that something was wrong in that place. It’s very creepy.
In addition to your fiction, you’ve had an extensive career as a journalist. Did you always know you wanted to write fiction, and how has your background in journalism dovetailed with the horror genre?
Even though I knew from a very young age that I wanted to be a novelist, I was raised in a practical family. I thought it would be a great idea to learn a writing trade that could pay the bills while I worked on getting a novel published, and that’s how I became a journalist. Most of my horror revolves around the evil that exists in people, so journalism gave me plenty of chilling examples. I’ll never forget the neighborhood that stayed awake all night to keep their homes from falling prey to an arsonist, or the mother whose baby was stolen from her. Journalism also taught me how to be a full-time working writer, and to treat writing as a business.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received with regards to writing?
Find your people. It’s easy to get upset over bad reviews, internet trolls, and rejections, but those people aren’t “your” people and you can’t please everyone. Finding your people changes where you put your energy and time. If someone’s already told you they’re not interested in what you do, it’s a lot better to spend your energy on the people who are interested rather than struggling to convert those who aren’t. (And I’m not sure it’s possible to convert those who aren’t.)
What’s the best thing about being a writer?
As a writer, you get to be your own therapist. I don't know what it is about writing, but it seems to resolve almost every problem, probably because most of our problems are in our own heads.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A weekend camping trip goes horribly wrong for two young couples. Reese Wallace is the lone survivor of the massacre that befell them, which makes him the likely suspect. Detective Maria Geyeyes is assigned the case and comes to realize she’ll have to set aside her belief in what is real and what is imagined and draw on her Native American heritage to solve it and stay alive. The story started with the massacre and that quickly pulled me into the story. As the author wove past history with present day, she tightened the grip on my intrigue. And the more I learned about the characters, the more I was invested in their survival. This is a mystery and a horror story, but also one of what goes around comes around. The past can come back to haunt you. And the ending. Well, that gave me much to ponder.
I love horror novels, but I'm picky about them. I only love good horror novels. So many of them are cheesy, or trite....but not this book. It starts with the story of stranded teens struggling to survive the wilderness, which I really enjoy. Then things get mysterious. Then dark and twisted and scary. I was drawn into the story, the characters, the mystery of what was happening. Thank you to net galley for an advance copy. I truly enjoyed this book.
This book is an awesome blend of several genres I enjoy -- horror, crime procedural/investigation, and sci-fi -- with a splash of historical fiction and cryptozoological/monster folklore goodness thrown in for strong flavor. When Reese goes camping with friends, he has no idea that he will be the only one to leave Strong Lake alive. His friends are brutally murdered. What saved him? A strange voice telling him to leave and a weird burned tree. Yeah -- the detective investigating the mass killing doesn't really buy that story either. Until she hears the voice herself. This story features one of my favorite monsters from Native American Folklore.....the Wendigo. As the story unfolds, it jumps back and forth from modern time to the colonial era. Usually I don't really care for repeated time jumps....but for this story it worked. The tale of a indigenous people persecuted and killed by European settlers mixed well with the modern storyline, giving it context. This is a horror story -- the death scenes are gory and gruesome. The Wendigo is not a quiet, well-controlled killer. There is lots of ripping and spewing blood. Be forewarned. If you don't like slashy scream fests with a great story -- then you might want to avoid this one. The story is solid....it isn't just about gore. But the gore is there. Very entertaining, creepy read! I thoroughly enjoyed it! This is the first book by J.H. Moncrieff that I've read. Definitely reading more of her work! I've already added Return to Dyatlov Pass to my TBR list....and she has so many other titles that sound so good! :) **I voluntarily read a review copy of this book from Flame Tree Press. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.*
An easy read, an entertaining and well written book. I liked how the characters and the plot were developed and the creepy factor was quite high. Recommended! Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
If you are into horror stories then this book has it, but it’s not just that, there is a mixture of genre’s here, some supernatural, a bit of police procedure, as well as some folklore. The story is told in flashbacks from the now, and to when the ground was an Indian Reservation. Two teenage couples arrive for a weekend camping trip, arriving to an empty camping ground is never a good sign, especially if you have watched some of the horror stories popular in the 80’s onwards. The couples become stranded, and have to quickly try and learn how to survive in the wilderness, unfortunately, for most that isn’t meant to be. Reece Wallace is the only one to survive this horrible massacre, which is difficult for him to explain, let alone talk about, and being the only survivor, he becomes the main suspect. Maria Greyeyes is the detective investigating, but these characters will need each other to survive, when the murders continue to happen. Some of the writing literally made you feel like you were there. The author manages to create great characters, they were believable and relatable. Whether it was from the past or the present. The people on the nearby reservation don’t trust outsiders including Maria Greyeyes who is a Native American herself who doesn’t believe in superstitions. The Native Americans shun the piece of land that the campground is on, and the government say that it is owned by the Native Americans, so neither side wants to claim ownership. This story sticks in your mind even after finishing reading it, because of the historical facts which the author has clearly researched, some of the atrocities that were committed by early American settlers on Native Americans, along with the racism that probably still lingers in some areas today. I would like to thank netgalley and Flame Tree Press for giving me an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest, fair and unbiased review.
Those Who Came Before is the second book by J.H. Moncreiff that I have read. I was introduced to this author through her Severed Press novel, Return to Dyatlov Pass. It was an interesting premise exploring what may have happened to that ill fated group of skiers in Siberia in 1959. This novel begins with another group of I'll fated people: two young couples on a weekend camping trip. As with Return to Dyatlov Pass, Those Who Came Before is rich with historical research that builds with layered intensity. (Mild spoilers to follow) Reese Wallace is a young man thrust into a horrible situation: the only survivor of a horrific massacre that is as unexplainable as it is unspeakable. And as such, he is the only logical suspect. Maria Greyeyes is the detective trying to find the truth behind this vicious slaughter and the truth contained within her Native American heritage. Both will need each other to survive when the murders continue. Those Who Came Before is a masterwork of quiet horror. It rivals the work of Owl Goingback and Kathryn Ptachek. It is a story that gets under your skin and makes one consider the sins of our ancestors. And how those sins can haunt the present. J. H. Moncreiff has crafted a story that is well researched and timely dealing with atrocities committed by early American settlers on Native Americans and the racism that unfortunately still exists in some avenues today. It is those unforgivable sins that give fuel to the fire to the horror that is to come. Even though I describe this story as quiet horror, Moncreiff doesn't shy away from the horrific. She has the ability to paint a scene with just enough descriptive prowess to convey to the reader what the scene implies. And what the mind conjures can be just as frightening as if it had been spelled out. Sometimes more so. This is the second J. H. Moncreiff novel I have read. It will not be the last. I thoroughly enjoyed the exploration of Native American mythology and legend in the setting that she has created. I eagerly anticipate diving into her other works. She is not an author to be missed. I would like to thank NetGalley and Flame Tree Press for providing the ARC for an honest review. Thank you.