Genre: Horror – Thriller
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Tor Books (October 4, 2016)
Length: 304 pages
My Rating: 3.5 stars
Stranded is a story which tackles the issue of how would a group of people act if they were cut off from civilization and must deal with life-or-death circumstances. Inevitably, in these situations it seems, terrible choices start being made; horrible things begin to happen; and cringe-worthy scenes pile up. And while that might not sound like a revolutionary idea for a horror story, Bracken MacLeod turns it into a nail-biting experience.
The story focuses on Noah Cabot, a simple deckhand on the Arctic Promise; his life pretty miserable due to the bullying and dislike of his fellow crew — including Brewster, the ship’s captain, who has a major grudge against him. But things get even worse for Noah when the ship is thrown off course in a terrible storm, trapped in an impenetrable mist, loses all communications with the outside world, and becomes ice bound. The crew quickly turning on each other, as every attempt to break the vessel free fails. And when people begin to fall ill with a mysterious disease, they also start to see . . . mysterious things. This chain of events cascading one atop another, leading up to a final, dreadful climax, which will leave readers in white-knuckled anticipation until the final sentence.
As a horror-thriller, Stranded is a moody mystery which relies on visceral action and vivid descriptions to set the mood and stoke the dread. Mr. MacLeod’s writing proving to be spot on for this claustrophobic tale. His powerful yet subtle prose able to capture chaotic storms, crazed crewmen, frozen ice fields, and mysterious terrors while also slowly building Noah’s character and revealing the why of his fellow’s intense dislike for him. The skillful manner in which the author creates this story a real joy to experience from my warm, cozy, and safe chair at home.
The only complaint I have with this novel (minor though it is) is the pacing of the narrative. Even with its action-oriented scenes at the beginning, the first half of the book is a slow moving affair, more oriented to building suspense than surprising and only grudgingly revealing information a reader longs to uncover. Obviously, Mr. MacLeod chooses this method so as to work toward the “What the Hell!” moments in the second half of the story, but I, at least, wouldn’t have minded a few more of those in the beginning as well.
Stranded is an entertaining horror-thriller, which surprises and horrifies in equal measure, providing the perfect dose of each to satisfy any reader’s desires. Definitely, it took time reaching its climax, but when the final line is read, the pay off was definitely worth the wait.
I received an advanced reading copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank them for allowing me to receive this review copy and inform everyone that the review you have read is my opinion alone.