Friday 29 July 2016

REVIEW: Rich Hawkins - Scavengers

Genre: Horror
Publisher: Self Published
Publication Date: 24th July 2016
Pages: 85


A copy of Scavengers was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the author, Rich Hawkins, in exchange for an honest review. This is said review. This book is self-published.

So after my recent confession a couple of months ago that I had never read anything by Rich Hawkins, here I am again, reviewing something by Rich Hawkins! To be honest, when this one landed on my lap it was a no brainer. I have some of Rich’s earlier stuff still to read but thought that now I have started, I have to keep up to date with the new stuff.

I had seen this one being promoted around the social media sites but had no idea what it was about. I didn’t even read the synopsis before I picked it up. I opened it to read the opening couple of chapters just to see what it was like. I ended up staying up late into the night. Was that for a good or bad reason?

Let’s find out.

Ray and Shell are married. They are about to embark on a week long holiday to Devon with Shell’s bosses, Tim and Jules and their young daughter Molly. Shell can’t wait. It looks like this could be something to do with the long awaited promotion she has been chasing. Ray is dreading it. He has only met Tim and Jules once before but can’t remember much about them. This is not his idea of fun.

On the journey to Tim and Jules’ holiday home they come across a car abandoned in the middle of a country road. When Tim and Ray go to investigate, they come across the children. The children live in the woods. They have escaped, and they want to have some fun.

These are not the type of children who want to play tag!

You have more or less been introduced to the characters in the synopsis. Ray and Shell seem like a typical couple. Married and chugging along nicely. Ray could be more successful at his writing and Shell is hoping for bigger and better things in her career. They seem happy enough but this holiday is putting a strain on things. Tim and Jules seem to be nice enough. They are doing this to reward Shell for her hard work. They really don’t hit it off that well with Ray. They seem to cast scorn on his chosen career and he seems to resent the fact that they are successful.

The other characters in this one are people I cannot tell you about for fear of giving away the story. You know there are children involved. You know they are not very nice. Where they came from and how they developed is something that you just need to read about. Suffice to say that the adults in their lives are a mixture of misguided individuals and an overzealous leader that also has misguided beliefs and intentions. This is a great mix for something purely evil.

You have probably picked up on the plot as well. People going on holiday come across an abandoned car, something comes out of the woods, people from the car need to run away very, very fast. That is a very simplistic way of putting it but you get the general idea.

There are a couple of things that make this different from the normal sort of story you would read with this plot scenario. The first one is the location. This isn’t set in some remote back-end-of-nowhere hillbilly town in the middle of nowheresville, America. This is set in scenic Devon, England. A place where many of us go to on our holidays. A place with some of the nicest ice cream in the world. An idyllic part of the country that thousands travel to every year for rest and relaxation, not to come across one of the most horrific situations they are ever likely to witness.

The second is the reason for the horror. Now, I obviously cannot go into this for fear of spoiling things again, but it is not your normal run of the mill clan of inbreds, living undisturbed in the woods for centuries. There is a definite reason for the children being how they are. It is both very frightening and very sad at the same time. Believable? I think it surely is, the way Rich Hawkins has written this story.

There is no huge backdrop to what exactly happened. No prolonged passages describing the run up to the main event in the story. It doesn’t need it. In a few pages you know exactly what is happening and get a true sense of the problems our character’s face, and the horror that has been unleashed. Again, misguided beliefs often produce the opposite effect than was intended.

Rich Hawkins is a genius. I don’t think I can put it any other way. I have now put in place a strict regime of self-flagellation for failing to pick his stuff up before this. I am disgusted and ashamed of myself.

His writing is so easy that you can’t help but fall into the rhythm of the story from the first couple of pages. You feel a part of the story almost immediately. I have been trying to figure out who his style reminds me of. There are a few American authors that I could say he writes like. This story certainly has more of an American feel to it than something that is happening in England. I don’t make this comparison very often but the ease of which he guides you into the story and keeps you hooked, no matter what happens, reminds me a lot of the early writing of James Herbert. He takes what looks like a totally innocent scenario and completely flips it on its head and by the time you have finished reading it, you are knackered.

One other thing that I must quickly mention as well. Rich Hawkins is the master of cliff hangers in this book. You flip a page and think, ha I have come to the end of this chapter and that is good because the wife is shouting at me for reading so long. Then you read the very last sentence of that chapter. You have no choice. You must turn the page! Whatever the wife wants can wait!

To summarise: this is a story that is both scary and hugely enjoyable at the same time. It has horror and fear and tension and monsters of the human kind and an evil that knows no bounds. It has blood and guts and plenty of reading-with-one-eye-closed moments. This, my friends, is how to write.

General rating:

★★★★★ couldn't be any less.

Horror rating:

★★★★★ nor could this.

If you would like to help support Confessions of a Reviewer, then please consider using the links below to buy Scavengers or any other books from Rich. This not only supports me but also lets me know how many people actually like to buy books after reading my reviews.


Book Synopsis:

The children play in the woods. The children hunt in the woods.

They kill in the woods.

When Ray and his wife join another couple for a week in the countryside, they expect nothing more than a few days of relaxation, fine drink and good food. Instead they discover a terrible secret that threatens to destroy them all.

They will run and hide - and fight if they have to - but the fields will be covered in blood and screams will echo through the trees.

The SCAVENGERS are here.

A visceral, non-stop tale of horror from British Fantasy Award-nominated author Rich Hawkins.


Rich Hawkins hails from deep in the West Country, where a childhood of science fiction and horror films set him on the path to writing his own stories. He credits his love of horror and all things weird to his first viewing of John Carpenter's THE THING. His debut novel THE LAST PLAGUE was nominated for a British Fantasy Award for Best Horror Novel in 2015. The sequel, THE LAST OUTPOST, was released in the autumn of 2015.

The final novel in the trilogy, THE LAST SOLDIER, was released in March 2016.

And for more about Rich, visit his site or find him on social media:

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