Author: Steve Stockton
From haunted cabins to Satanic rituals to weird balls of light to Big Foot sightings and more, Steve Stockton collects 85 true stories of peoples’ encounters with the mystical and mysterious in the woods. The stories range from spooky to weird. Each tale is short – the Audible version is about five hours for all 85 stories – but resonates with the personal vibe of the teller. As with all short collections, fiction or nonfiction, the stories stand and fall by themselves, with some being more memorable than others, but all fitting into a similar theme.
My husband and I listed to Strange Things In the Woods while driving from Washington DC to Tennessee during a particularly violent cold front. With wintery mix and high winds lashing the roads, tucked into our cozy warm car together, heading to spend Christmas (in the woods!) with family, this book made the perfect spooky/cozy blend and helped the miles melt away. It was just the right read at the right time, light but still engaging, with just enough truly spooky stories to keep us waiting for that next unforgettable encounter with the supernatural or the dastardly.
Some stories seem fairly believable, others less so. Some narrators are more convincing, or at least more trustworthy than others, but each story has a little something to get you thinking about what lies beyond in the depths of the unexplored, sometimes hostile woods. Most of the stories seem to take place in East Tennessee (another plus for our little trip).
There were several ghost stories, a particularly memorable haunted doll story (dolls frightened me even as a little girl, so this stood out), a few Big Foot sightings (less believable and therefore less interesting to me), some possible military experiments near Oakridge involving shiny robots, a few “weird ball in the wood” stories, and two or three creepy Satanists with their blood sacrifices thrown in to keep the horror visceral.
As with any story collection, I had a few favorites. The ghosts and abandoned places resonated with me, and the stories of stumbling upon witchy sites, a trail of tarots leading deeper into the woods, and the results of blood sacrifices were especially terrifying. One story about a man and his son encountering a car and motorcycle mysteriously hidden by the side of the road was especially spooky, as was an encounter with a potential serial killer’s hiding spot for his victim’s belongings.
Most of the stories were just ok, or too short to really explore. Here, real people act quicker and with more intelligence than in horror movies, immediately leaving or returning the creepy object when things got weird. Still, this collection was enjoyable, and the perfect road trip book for some wintery fun in the woods of Tennessee. Recommended.
– Frances Carden
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