Pros: Interesting characters and twists
Cons: One part I didn’t understand
Rating: 4 out of 5
In Ike Hamill’s Camp Sacrifice, we’re introduced to a bunch of adults who decided to stay at a camp for a while. They’ve talked themselves and each other into telling scary stories around the campfire. The stories must be true and must be from the teller’s life, and the campers are spreading the telling out over a number of days. Many of the tales contain a dollop of the supernatural, which clearly most of the campers don’t believe in, but they’ve agreed not to tear apart each other’s stories. As it turns out, their telling of tales is having a strange effect on the camp as well as the campers, and someone has an agenda to fulfill.
I enjoyed Camp Sacrifice quite a bit. The tales around the campfire are sufficiently engrossing, and some of them have fascinating, well, side effects. The characters have depth, even the grumpy, semi-senile Cliff. There’s a fair amount of blood and some mutilation, but it isn’t overdone–it makes sense in the context of the story, and isn’t the primary source of horror.
Odd things start happening in addition to the stories themselves. A sort of ‘imp’ attacks people. One man disappears into the water. An old tale about a local haunting takes on new life. Someone seems to be performing ritualistic sacrifices in the area. The pacing works; the campfire tales provide a nice up-and-down, followed by a more complex tale that draws and expands on those tales and the supernatural traces within and around them. I’ve read a handful of Hamill’s books by now, and this is one of my favorites. The plot agenda that one character has kept me glued to the pages.
I can’t really talk about anything else without risking spoilers. Suffice it to say, the campfire stories on their own are fun, and when combined with the rest of the plot the whole thing engaged me quite thoroughly. Hamill excels at taking his tales a step or two further than I’d expect from most authors.