D. Melhoff takes the readers on a journey of what happens at your very typical fairy tale inspired summer camp:
A remote summer camp that is based on fairy tales themes is about to show the dark side of the fairy tales. When two teens are murdered and rendered in to a real life version of a classic Grimm's fairy tale chaos is about to ensue. The counselors and children are trapped within the wilderness till Friday and the bus comes to pick the children up, 4 more days they have to try and survive. But this killer has been planned for everything and has a Grimm Fairy Tale for each counselor they want to enact, survival is not likely.
This book (and several movies out there) makes me happy that I was never a counselor at camp, these people seem to get the worst of the worst at these camps, plus they have to take care of a whole bunch of children at the same time, no thank you. This book starts out like the Wet Hot American Summer (well less funny and more sex) with just some not so casual murders involved.
This was an gripping read and this was due to the fair tale murder aspect of the book. I personally was not aware of all the different horrors fair tales come from and Melhoff does not shy away from expanding on them. The deaths are twisted, gruesome and at times you can only imagine how much the individual suffered before they succumbed to their end. These are not your Disney tales that you think you know so well and I think that Melhoff describes it best when you first open the book "Fairy tales have not always been considered suitable for children. Many of them originally contained elements of torture, incest, rape, cannibalism, suicide, beastiality, murder and other horrific acts. All references to these elements in this novel are accurate". It was from this point on that you know but don't really know what you are about to get in to. Then by the end of the book you realize how screwed up our ancestors were for coming up with these stories, and you can understand why they have changed in to the Disney version over time.
This book does not strive for a lot of character development. Yes, we have our main character in Sean but with some many people being murdered like flies it is hard to really get to know Sean outside of how he tries to handle himself in each situation. Other than that all we know about Sean is that he suffers from a reoccurring nightmare each night about trains. This book is very much plot driven as the counselors strive to stay alive, take care of the children at the camp as well as figure out why this is happening to them.
Was not as graphic as I was expecting for being a horror book, really only "experience " one of the murders the rest happen and are discovered or the people are killed but it is not elaborated on. However I am okay with this as it allows you as the reader to use your own imagination for what happened, so you can create it as graphic as you want in your head. This does not mean that these scenes are any less disturbing, the way some of the counselors die are horrific even if only the body is discovered.
This is the first book that I have read by Melhoff and it will not be the last. I enjoyed the thin lines that he played with throughout the book and he chose well when he decided to cross them.