Publisher: Sinister Grin Press
Publication Date: 15th September 2016
REVIEWED BY KIMBERLY
A copy of Savages was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the publishers, Sinister Grin Press, in exchange for an honest review. This is said review.
Savages, by Greg Gifune was a book that had all of the elements to make a great horror story, and then some! Not only did this novel flow naturally, making it near impossible for me to find a good place to stop reading for the night, but the scenes and occurrences that were taking place were so original, that I honestly didn’t know what to expect next.
We start off with a group of friends, (Dallas and his wife Quinn, Andre and his wife Natalie, Gino and his IQ-challenged girlfriend Harper, Herm, a fellow teacher and friend to Dallas, and Murdoch, the captain of the boat they’d been on), who find themselves washed up on the shore of an island that shouldn’t exist. This is about the only horror cliché you’ll find in this novel.
“The white sand, the palm trees and jungle, the enormous blue sky and clear water, it all should have been so beautiful . . . but it was something else too, something dangerous and deadly . . . holding them hostage from the rest of the world . . .”
Gifune wastes no time in getting into the thick of this story. He holds nothing back. By simply observing the scenes, we gather a deep knowledge of each of the characters, their strengths, weaknesses, and motivations. We are able to discern all of this through their various interactions, the group dynamics, one-on-one conversations, and the occasional personal details that each person intimately knows, even if they only admit it to themselves. The truly impressive nature of this type of characterization is that we get to see as their personalities begin to change and adapt naturally, as the situation goes on. Nothing about these individuals ever feels forced; rather, their emotional progression comes about in a way that the readers, themselves, can feel and appreciate as completely normal under the conditions they are now in.
“. . . It was about living and dying now, nothing more. Maybe it always had been . . . ”
While an uncharted island might be considered unusual in these days of modern technology, Gifune takes every advantage of the hardships the friends now face after surviving the shipwreck. The survival skills, search for drinking water, food, and other essentials, take precedence at once, showcasing the harsh and dangerous environment that still surrounds them.
“The longer we’re stuck here . . . the less human we’re going to get.”
In this fast-paced novel, the horrors, both emotional and physical, are always present. Even the personalities of each of the survivors begin to morph into something else . . . something more primal than they originally were. With each drop of water taken, each injury, each new discovery, they all begin to think in terms of what they need to do to insure their individual survival.
The title, Savages, fits this story perfectly on multiple levels. Even the one character who seems to revel in taking charge of situations eventually shrinks back when faced with their disagreeable predicament: “I don’t want to be right, . . . Not this time . . . “
Of course, there are enigmatic surprises that even seasoned horror readers will be hard-pressed to predict. Throughout the journey, the jungle itself is a danger, as much so as the humans.
“. . . they kept trying to conjure something specific . . . something big . . . but it didn’t work . . . Until it did.”
Just how much these characters are up against is kept in the shadows for the majority of the novel, but the parts that do come in as early harbingers of . . . other . . . things to come are more than enough to get your heart racing and propel you to keep reading on. Gifune utilizes psychological horror, visceral horror, the loss of basic survival necessities, human intimidation, the primal fear of the unknown, and of course, plenty of bloodshed and gore.
Overall, a fantastic addition to any horror lover’s library. Savages has just about every element you could want, and then some. The pacing, characters, and relentless atmosphere of danger and isolation present in each and every scene, brings this novel to its stunning conclusion before you’re even ready for it.
“She’d been wrong all along . . . There was such a thing as monsters . . . “
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It began as a vacation to the Cook Islands. But when seven friends are lost in the South Pacific after their boat goes down in a storm, they must survive at sea for several days in a small raft. Blown miles off course from their original position, and deep into open waters, they eventually encounter a small uncharted island.
Grateful to be alive, they begin their quest for survival, hopeful they’ll be rescued sooner than later. But the island is not the paradise it appears to be. Instead, it is a place of horror, death, torture and evil, of terrible secrets thought long buried and forgotten.
And they are not alone.
Something guards those horrible secrets, something evil and relentlessly violent, an ancient horror born of rage and vengeance, a blood-crazed predator that lives to kill and will stop at nothing to protect the island from those intruding upon its dark legacy.
The savage is loose, and there is no escape.
CONFESSIONS REVIEWS GREG F. GIFUNE
Called “One of the best writers of his generation” by both the Roswell Literary Review and author Brian Keene, GREG F. GIFUNE is the author of numerous short stories, several novels, screenplays and two short story collections (HERETICS and DOWN TO SLEEP). His work has been published all over the world, consistently praised by readers and critics alike, received starred reviews in Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and The Midwest Book Review (among others) and has recently garnered interest from Hollywood.
His novels include CHILDREN OF CHAOS, DOMINION, THE BLEEDING SEASON, DEEP NIGHT, BLOOD IN ELECTRIC BLUE, SAYING UNCLE, A VIEW FROM THE LAKE, NIGHT WORK, DRAGO DESCENDING, CATCHING HELL, JUDAS GOAT and LONG AFTER DARK. Greg resides in Massachusetts with his wife Carol and a bevy of cats.
And for more about Greg, visit his site or find him on social media: