The Troop by Nick Cutter
Gallery Books, 2014
Available: Hardcover, paperback, Kindle edition
This story is an experience in terror. A very hungry stranger arrives in the town of Lower Montague, Prince Edward Island. The man becomes the talk of the town for eating huge quantities of food. The man then steals a boat and heads to a small island where Scoutmaster Tim Riggs and five scouts are having their annual weekend camping trip. The boys are all good friends and they get along with Scoutmaster Tim, as they call him, but Tim has a bad feeling about the camping trip this year.
After dinner, the boys go to their cabin to tell ghost stories. All the typical characters are present: there’s Kent, the popular one, son of the police chief in town; Newton, the nerd; Shelly, the odd one; Max, the boy next door; and Ephraim, the tough guy. While they’re talking, the stranger arrives on the small island. Scoutmaster Tim meets the man, who begs for help and food. Although Tim is afraid of the stranger, and feels there is something very wrong with him, Tim feels it is his duty to help, because in addition to being the Scoutmaster, he is also the town doctor. To make things worse, Tim’s never never seen anything quite like this stranger — he’s a genetically-altered nightmare.
Later that night, a storm comes in, and all hell breaks loose. Through no fault of their own, the boys are left all alone. One by one they must assess their situations, and are forced to do things that no one should ever have to do as they fight to survive and get home. What will happen as the scouts are faced with the elements, their own fears and suspicions, and the possibility of injury and infection?
This book gives the reader a perfect build-up of human horror. The stranger is just a guy who is down on his luck so agreed to submit to medical experiments in exchange for cash; a scary scenario in itself, and a situation with some real-life basis. The boys are all realistically written, and the reader can easily sympathize with their fear, doubt, and anger at what happens to them. The Troop is a very good, highly intense read. Highly recommended for adult readers.
Contains: violence and death, violence involving children
Reviewed by Diana Lord