“Book Review: A Cabin in the Woods”
Reviewed by Robyn-Lee Samuels
An evocative psychological thriller that explores the influence of trauma on the human mind and soul
A Cabin in the Woods follows author Damian Noble as he escapes to a cabin in the woods. It’s a last-ditch effort to cure his writer’s block.
And lucky for him, it works.
In the silence of the woods, Damian writes his swan song – the tragic tale of a young man, Adam, who falls apart with each chapter. But as Adam’s story unfolds, Damian finds struggles to reconcile with the traumatic events that have happened to his main character.
Author Marek Záhorec takes the reader on an unexpected journey in this one. Drawing on worldbuilding techniques and blending elements of a contemporary romance with suspense and mystery, Záhorec is able to craft a satisfying story that comments on grief, disability, mental health, suicide, love, as well as the pain of caring too deeply for a fictional character. Záhorec’s tactful prose unpacks these subjects smoothly and elegantly. Through several characters, the reader gets a window into the mental and emotional states of persons living with a disability, depression, and mental illness.
A Cabin in the Woods is intentionally slow-paced and unsettling at first, then it gradually becomes a page-turner as the tapestry comes together. The novel has two points of view: Damian’s and the story he is writing. Although the dual storylines seem disconnected at first, Damian’s fictional world drastically influences his reality. Záhorec mirrors certain events as Damian uses his writing to process the world around him, starting to make less sense as he goes on.
It is an exciting look at the process of storytelling and the toll it takes on storytellers. Throughout the novel, Damian must find inspiration and a muse, create writing rituals, and balance his social life with writing. Through Damian, Záhorec delves into the dangers of obsessing over a creative project. The reader watches as Damian’s issue transforms from extreme writers’ block to one of sacrificing health and relationships to complete his work.
This novel isn’t as hard-hitting as some psychological thrillers, but it’s a thought-provoking and twisty excavation into a writer’s mind. Adam’s story arc has hints of Dean Koontz’s Velocity, but hints are as far as the novel goes.
A Cabin in the Woods is a book well worth a re-read, filled with reveals that could satisfy in a different way the second time around. I’d recommend it to those who are looking to branch away from mysteries or contemporary into the psychological thriller genre.
Genre: Mystery / Thriller
Print length: 176 pages
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