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John Lukegord’s “The Haunted Trail” is a horror story that follows a string of gruesome events along a legendary Haunted Trail located in the backwoods of Dublin Ireland. It’s Halloween in the 1800s, and the air is filled with mystery and murder. Through a combination of brief and succinct chapters, this short story portrays a tale of insanity and of gruesome crimes against mankind. With mummies, mental patients, ghosts and clowns, the cast of unusual characters and morbid murders help to weave an intriguing and mysterious tale.
The feel and tone of the story is set instantly in the first chapter, which, as a reader, caught me completely off guard. You can tell immediately that this story is not going to leave you with the happy ending we often come to expect. The tale begins with the gruesome murder of two young boys who, on completely un-related paths, wonder into the woods, angering a band of evil men who have claimed the path as theirs. My senses were originally shocked by the murder of two small children from the very beginning of the story. This literary decision helped to shape and change my expectations and prepare me for the rest of the ghastly tale.
One of the components that I enjoyed about this story was the seemingly unrelated side stories that were all happening at the same time. At first, each chapter seems to be independent of each other. Yet, as the reader continues to work their way through the book, the inter-connectedness of the events begins to manifest itself. As the body count adds up, the story line solidifies.
Throughout this tale of gore, there is not a lot of time spent on developing the characters, which keeps the reader guessing. The main focus is on their acts of gore or attempts at survival. One of the chapters introduces to the reader a set of brothers, of which only one Mick Patrican, manages to escape. A new twist is introduced to the story as he becomes more of a focal part of the story line. You are given someone that you can get more emotionally invested in.
At times, the story seems inconsistent, but it doesn’t distract from the tale. I believe the randomness of the evil of that night is partly what holds the story line together. For readers who want the unexpected and can handle a story without the usual satisfying ending, “The Haunted Trail” is a short read that offers a lot of mystery and mayhem within its pages.