Thursday, February 11, 2016


Northwoods by Bill Schweigart
Random House: 2/16/16
eBook review copy; 277 pages
ISBN-13: 9780804181372

Northwoods by Bill Schweigart is a highly recommended monster novel with an X-Files vibe set in Northern Minnesota. This is another great novel to read under a blanket with a warm beverage nearby. Northwoods is the second novel in a series that started with The Beast of Barcroft, but you can read it as a stand-alone novel. I predict that you will want to get The Beast of Barcroft. I know I immediately bought the first book for my Kindle.

It's October and as winter approaches Davis Holland, ex-Delta Force who now works for the Customs and Border Protection, is investigating an illegal border crossing with his friend Gil Ramsey, the local sheriff of Barnabus, Minnesota. Located by the western edge of the Superior National Forest and south of Crane Lake and the Canadian Border, Barnabus is a very small town surrounded by rugged wilderness.  What Davis and Gil discover in the woods is beyond belief. There is a strange chest surrounded by the bloody bodies of seven men that have been torn apart. But there is also strange laughter coming from the woods. As Davis and Gil head back to their vehicle with the chest, they are nearly attacked by something... but what remains unclear.

When wealthy cryptozoologist Richard Severance learns about the incident, he sends Ben McKelvie (who is still looking for the New Jersey Devil with his Maine Coon cat, Gus), Lindsay Clark (a National Zoologist and Ben's best friend), and Alex Standingcloud (George Mason University’s professor of Native American Indigenous Studies and Ojibwe) to Minnesota to investigate. Ben, Lindsay, and Alex have a history together. They were in on another investigation and almost killed by a shapeshifter, a mythical creature from Native American folklore (The Beast of Barcroft). That experience wounded and changed all of them, but also opened them up to believe that cryptids are out there.

Severance sends his team to the Apostle Islands in Wisconsin to investigate the Monster of Madeline Island. The Natives call it Mishipeshu, which means underwater panther. There also appears to be another problem - a wendigo problem. A windigo is another manitou, a spiritual being like the Mishipeshu, but unlike Mishipeshu, which is neither good nor evil, a wendigo is decidedly malevolent.

The action eventually joins the two locations in Minnesota and Wisconsin together to tackle the problem that is much bigger, widespread, and bloody than they could have imagined. Be forewarned that there are some gruesome, graphic descriptions of violent attacks, as one would expect in an encounter with mythical monsters.

Schweigart does an excellent job moving the action along quickly while providing the reader with the important information and background needed to follow the action. There are some great descriptions, numerous nail-biting scenes, and plenty of suspense and horror. Clearly Schweigart is establishing a new series here and it looks like it's going to be a winner.

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Random House/Hydra for review purposes.

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