Review: The Dead Path

The Dead Path
The Dead Path by Stephen M. Irwin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Stephen M. Irwin’s “The Dead Path” was a wonderful debut novel from this author. Irwin has a gift for description that is positively literary and this comes in handy when depicting the foreboding events that unfold for the protagonist early on in the book. Aside from the works of Cormac McCarthy, I can’t remember another read that sent me so often to the dictionary to look up a word I was unfamiliar with. This is a good thing, by the way, and does not at all come off like Irwin is lording obscure vocabulary words over the reader.
As well, the author spends only a little time on the story’s build-up before launching into the spooky stuff and I can really appreciate that. Though it took me a while to get through the book, it was no fault of the author, but rather a lack of time to devote to reading on my part. I thought the novel moved along at a good clip, never letting the reader rest on their laurels and always keeping us interested in what was happening next with the characters.
I also don’t mind sharing that at one point around the middle of the book, Nicholas Close, the protagonist is faced with the prospect of crossing through these enormous drain tunnels that are filled – and I do mean FILLED – with spiders of every description. If you’re a bit of an arachnophobe like I am, you will find the passage barely readable. Your skin will crawl. This underscore’s Irwin’s gift for beautiful, evocative description and prose.
In short, if you’re in the mood for a dark, atmospheric horror novel set in landscapes that are lonely and leering, you would do well to check out this novel by Irwin. His upcoming novel, “The Broken Ones” is available for pre-order right not and I intend on picking that up when it comes out, too.

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