“Believe only half of what you see and nothing that you hear” – Edgar Allan Poe
Author Vicki Zell’s latest novel ‘The Hut in the Woods’ narrates the story of Carly Shiffer, a 27 year old woman with an overactive imagination whose life begins to unravel after a blast from her past resurfaces. When she discovers a harrowing truth about her husband, her perfect life in the small town falls apart, while also affecting her parents and her older brother. And with a serial killer on the loose in the town, the law enforcement agencies are on their toes and that is when Carly goes missing. Soon accusations start flying across thick and fast and strange suspects too pop into the picture.
Carly is shown married to Dorian Shiffer, a man that many women in their town consider as the perfect specimen of the male species. But unknown to them her marriage and domestic life is rapidly deteriorating by every passing day. But Carly soon finds out the reason behind Dorian’s physical and emotional detachment from her. And when her caring parents and over protective brother get involved, it initiates a chain of events resulting in Carly going missing and Dorian being blamed for it.
The author makes full use of Carly’s overactive imagination to sheath the small town setting with a cloak of mystery and intrigue right from the start of the book. And more often than not it’s this overactive imagination of hers that fuels the narrative forward. The author often takes the reader inside Carly’s mind and shows you her quirks and her almost paranoid behaviour, leading you to question everything and not knowing whom or what to trust in the story.
The Hut in the Woods is excellently crafted and is a wonderful dramatic piece that manages to scare you, thrill you and also humor you with its understated and almost subtle humor. The wonderful use of the language has to be appreciated as well; it has been altered to suit each character’s personality and demeanour. The book stays at an even pace while providing emotional ups and downs by way of an actual plot and real characters. Initially it does take its own time to get going but after the half way mark the chapters fly by rather quickly. In fact it is after Carly goes missing from the narrative that we get to see some of the best material in the book. The interrogation scenes, almost all the scenes with Decker and the final scene are some of the highlights worth mentioning. The character of Leonard Houser is nicely used and you will appreciate the brilliance in that character’s conception and usage by the end.
For many people a good book means one that is structured properly, one that has got its story moving in a consistent manner and is told in an entertaining voice. While for others it is the ending that they consider as the most important part of the book. In the case of The Hut in the Woods it emerges a definite winner on both the counts. The strength in the writing itself should take this book into the definitive reading list.
Paperback: 294 pages
Publisher: Page Publishing, Inc. (October 27, 2014)