01 January 2020

Review || Those Who Came Before by J. H. Moncrieff




People are dying at Strong Lake, and the worst 
is yet to come.An idyllic weekend camping trip is cut short when Reese Wallace’s friends are brutally murdered. As the group’s only survivor, Reese is the prime suspect, and his story doesn’t make much sense. A disembodied voice warning him to leave the campground the night before? A strange, blackened tree that gave him an electric shock when he cut it down for firewood?

Detective Greyeyes isn’t having any of it―until she hears the voice herself and finds an arrowhead at the crime scene―an arrowhead she can’t get rid of. Troubling visions of a doomed Native American tribe who once called the campground home, and rumors of cursed land and a mythical beast plague the strangest murder case she’s ever been a part of. 



At first glance, Those Who Came Before seems like typical horror slasher fare. A group of teenagers trespassing on a closed campground with complete disregard for rules and an obvious lack of respect for authority. Said teenagers then get slaughtered in a "red mist" kind of way. Not super original right? Except that's not the end of this story. What comes next is not only a deeper look into the Native American folklore of the wendigo but also a brazen look at the socio-political issues that Native Americans faced and continue to face. 

Reese finds himself suddenly the main suspect in the murders of his friends and girlfriend after waking up in the same tent with one of the victims. However, he's so oblivious to what happened that although Detective Greyeyes can't help to believe he's the killer, her gut is telling her something very different. Once at the campground, she finds a tree, blackened and shattered from the inside out. It's only when she experiences the same disembodied voice Reese did telling her to leave, that she delves deeper into the history of the campground lands and why those on the reservation won't set foot there. 

This was my first read by the author but it won't be my last. Part mystery and part police procedural mixed with great characterization and creepy historical paranormal link made this a fantastic read.