DREAM WOODS (Sinister Grin Press) is the latest release from horror newcomer, Patrick Lacey.
This book revolves around the Massachusetts theme park, Dream Woods. The park was the highlight of so many kids in its heyday. After a number of horrible incidents, the place which earned the new moniker, “Scream Woods”, is shut down. The park is left to rot and disappear.
Years later, when Vince Carter drives by and sees the park has re-opened, he romanticizes the best week of his childhood and imagines a family trip to Dream Woods could be just what he and his wife need to bring them closer. Vince, his wife, Audra, and their twin pre-teens set out for a week that nobody wants any part of but Vince.
Audra dreams of a time before the boys when Vince and her were just a couple of punk rockers against the world. The boys, Tim, a diabetic who is the center of the family’s attention due to his disease, and Andrew, who is understandably jealous about being the constant second fiddle, add another layer of emotion and drama to the story.
The Carter’s are in for a heck of a vacation.
Lacey sets this wonderfully crazy story up with the flare of one Bentley Little. Constantly intriguing and engaging, keeping reality tipped off kilter at all times, resulting in a near-permanent unsettling state for the reader, this author knows how to pull your strings. I mentioned Little–at times, it feels like this could have easily been titled, The Amusement Park. While the execution isn’t quite at the level of Mr. Little, it does show that Patrick Lacey means business.
Lacey creates a cast of very real, well-rounded characters, and moves the story at a wonderful pace that makes it hard to put DREAM WOODS down. The violence is fantastically crafted and the story itself is a lot of creepy fun. “The Director” makes for a wonderful antagonist, unfortunately, he is overshadowed by the Dream Woods mascot, Sebastian (the bear on the cover– a creepy creation in his own right).
On the nitpicky side of things, I would love to have seen Lacey swing his horror hammer even more wildly in this one. He set up a lot of great scenarios, but never quite delivered the knock-out blow I was expecting. It felt, at times, like he was holding back. It’s not easy to kill our characters, but I think it often gives horror stories (especially), a more realistic feel to them. While not everyone makes it out alive here (actually, quite a few people die), I didn’t like Lacey’s choice at the end. It felt like someone got to be bad person through most of the book and then was given a free pass. I don’t want to give it away, so whether that makes sense to you or not, it is what it is.
Overall, I believe DREAM WOODS is a fantastic piece from an author with an immensely bright future, and judging from Lacey’s two previous releases (A DEBT TO BE PAID and the excellent collection, SLEEP PARALYSIS), this is just the tip of the iceberg. Lacey is set to open up the throttle and run us all down. And I’ll be in the middle of the road eagerly waiting.
I give DREAM WOODS 4 stars!
Follow along the tour with these hashtags: #DreamWoods #ScreamWoods #PeskyBear
Dream Woods, Synopsis
- Print Length: 135 pages
- Publisher: Sinister Press
- Publication Date: October 1, 2016
Follow your screams…
When Vince Carter takes a shortcut to work he notices a billboard that nearly sends him into an oncoming van.
The ad is for Dream Woods, New England’s answer to Disney World. It closed decades ago, but now that it’s back in business, Vince is eager to take his whole family, hoping the magic he remembers will save his failing marriage.
His wife, Audra, isn’t so sure. She’s heard the rumors of why the place closed. Murder. Sacrifice. Torture. But those are just urban legends. Surely there’s nothing evil about a family tourist attraction.
The Carters are about to discover that the park’s employees aren’t concerned with their guests’ enjoyment. They’re interested in something else. Something much more sinister.
Welcome to Scream Woods!
Patrick Lacey, Biography
Patrick Lacey was born and raised in a haunted house. He spends his nights and weekends writing about things that make the general public uncomfortable. He lives in Massachusetts with his Pomeranian, his mustached cat, and his muse, who is likely trying to kill him. Find him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter (@patlacey), or visit his website.
Praise for Patrick Lacey
“This collection has it all, showing the world that Lacey can write and do it well. From frightening, eerie, soul-stamping to funny and gross, this book has it all. The man’s imagination is incredible. A must read!!!!” – David Bernstein, author of A Mixed Bag of Blood
“It’s a rare and joyful thing for me to read a book and realize I’m in the hands of an author who can go absolutely anywhere, who works without a formula and without a net. Such is the case with this stellar debut collection.” – Russell Coy, Amazon Review
“This fast-paced novella has terror on every page and will keep you searching the shadows in your home far more often than needed.” – Russell James, author of Q Island, on A Debt to Be Paid
Want to Feature?
If you’d like to feature Patrick Lacey on your blog or site, or review Dream Woods, please give Erin Al-Mehairi, marketing and publicity at Sinister Grin Press, a shout out at firstname.lastname@example.org.