Published by Full Fathom Five Digital on April 8th 2015
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College senior Leigh Swanson knew her friends’ vacation to Montreal would become a drug-and-booze-filled road trip. Yet despite her best judgement, she gave into her roommate’s pleas and hopped aboard the Canada-bound van.
It will soon prove to be the biggest mistake of her life.
On the road, Leigh and her friends meet Sam Tucker, a mysterious hitchhiker who is willing to exchange directions for a ride. Sam takes the gang on a shortcut—a detour through a dark Vermont forest. A deadly detour.
Among the many horrors that await Leigh and her friends is a fatal fungal disease, a grisly infection that has already claimed a number of victims. There is a cure—but Leigh is about to discover that sometimes, the only thing worse than sickness is:
Take one pinch of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, several dashes of Deliverance, add in a whole stock cube of THE LONESOME DEATH OF JODY VERRILL from Creepshow, mix well, and you come out with Asher Ellis’ debut novel, The Remedy. And, for the most part, it’s a wholly satisfying meal.
Starring a fairly typical cast of college-aged kids who make a number of dumb decisions that put them in the wrong part of the world at a particularly bad time, The Remedy, at first glance, seems fairly by-the-numbers. But as the novel progresses, Ellis challenges a number of established genre tropes and forages a path that is different enough to stand out from the pack of similar reads.
Like many stories of this ilk, Ellis has his group of friends meet up with a mysterious stranger who guides them off the beaten path and into a part of the world where a nasty moss begins to cover and transform anything that comes into contact with it. The locals have worked out how to keep said moss at bay, and of course, it’s not the kind of remedy our cast of characters is going to pay willingly… The “B” plot of The Remedy follows a park ranger and his two colleagues as they wander around the periphery of proceedings, until the last act of the novel, when they are dragged kicking and screaming into the “A” plot. And it’s at this point that things truly get interesting. Ellis holds a couple of genuine aces up his sleeve that I, for one, did not see coming, and these elevated proceedings in notable ways. The Remedy is worth reading for these developments alone.
All of that said, this remains a first published novel and it has a few of the issues that normally exist in such a beast. For example, superfluous characters who raise some kind of hidden past issue that goes absolutely nowhere in a shoehorned attempt to make the reader care before they are dispatched; while another was the extremely predictable “final girl” who I was therefore never too concerned about since it was obvious she was going to make at least the final few chapters. Also, there were a few too many typos to be ignored, but that said, I did read an ARC, so perhaps they’ll be caught before the final printing.
Long story short, if you’re in the mood for a mash up of several horror sub-genres with a high body count and moments of gross-out gore, then look no further than . It may not knock your socks off, but there’s every chance you’ll have as good a time as I did, and really, what more can you ask for from a book about a killer fungus?
3.5 Ill-Advised Dips in the Lake for The Remedy.
The preceding was based on an eARC obtained through Netgalley as made available by Full Fathom Five Digital.