by Robert Dunbar
Publisher: Leisure, 2008.
Ah! The Pines, surely a novel about the beauty of the great outdoors, wandering amid the dappled shade of the mighty Pine trees, celebrating nature in all its glory.. err....not quite.
The Pines of the title are not quite the lofty ancient trees you may imagine (and that the cover might lead you to believe) no these are twisted, gnarled, wasted pines growing in the pine barrens. Oh, and there is something else living in those pine barrens, something even less pleasant.
First published in 1992 The Pines was Robert Dunbars first novel and has been republished here in a new uncut edition. The novel follows the lives of a group of people who live on the edge of the Pine Barrens, a desolate, haunted place inhabited by the pineys. The characters in this novel are without exception troubled and shaped not just by the normal difficulties of life but also the influence of the location.
When people start disappearing, rumours of an ancient legend surface and whilst the finger of blame points firmly at the Pineys there are a few who recognise the sign of The Jersey Devil at work.
So, all in all, this sounds a bit like a mixture of the X-files with Deliverance and a large dash of Southern Comfort (the movie) but that would be seriously underselling this book. The book develops such a rich and bleak feel that it becomes much greater than its component parts. The gradual shift from deliverance type horror to a much deeper supernatural threat is gripping and the character development makes it even more powerful.
This could so easily have been a book full of cliche but instead it's a fine addition to any horror library and comes highly recommended.
You can read more about Robert Dunbar here.
Rating 4 out of 5