What could be cozier than Christmas in a hunting lodge in the Scottish Highlands? For newbie constable Andrew, the inn owners, and a handful of well-paying guests, the tables turn when the hunted animals take revenge.
The Lodge by Chris Coppel is a bullet of a book: fast, compact, and impactful. It’s a short revenge tale that teeters on the edge of splatterpunk. There’s plenty of creative gore and atmosphere, but not a lot of creepiness. The lodge and the surrounding countryside are as beautifully visual as the deaths are gruesome. If you’re in the mood for something quick and grisly in an idyllic landscape, The Lodge is for you.
It reminds me a bit of a 90’s whodunit: a big spooky house, a locked-in atmosphere, and plenty of mysterious bumps in the night. Every now and then, a character would hear a shout from another room, rush in, and immediately ask what happened. Oh dear, it was the deer!
Like any good horror story, The Lodge doesn’t take itself too seriously. The bizarre reanimated animals are nightmarishly weird and creative in their retribution. Even the Christmas tree gets in on the action! And the human characters are good for a laugh: desperate for a positive Yelp review, the owners do their darndest to metaphorically sweep the deaths under the zebra-skin rug. The reader enjoys plenty of that “I know something you don’t know” feeling when the characters find themselves in a pickle.
I think it would have benefitted from being either a little bit shorter or a little bit longer. There were some gaps in the backstories and I think they all could have been either fleshed out or summed up. However, I did enjoy knowing the backstories and after learning the guests’ histories, I’ll admit it sparked a bit of a grinchy smile when karma caught up with them. Once everything started to make sense (sort of) it did feel a bit rushed and too tidy. A bit over the top, but what else would you expect from a story like this?
I can’t quite decide which genre The Lodge belongs in. The cover says thriller, it reads like horror, but it’s more of a vegan revenge tale with gore in it. The spook-factor is a little low, so there’s not a lot of dread, but plenty of revulsion. The reader can see everything coming from a mile away. In a vengeance tale, I consider this a good thing.
Whatever it is, The Lodge is just a lot of fun! Probably not so entertaining if you’re an avid hunter, but if you’re in the mood for a jolt of gross-out horror, this is just the ticket.
I read this book during a blizzard. And yes, I did make a vegan dish for dinner.
Thanks to NetGalley for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.