Well, the saying “be careful what you ask for” was never more appropriate than in this case. I went home that day and read the book. That night I couldn’t get to sleep, with visions of Bigfoot (not sugarplums) lurking outside my bedroom window and dancing in my head. Here’s why:
Somehow the shy, reclusive and supposedly friendly version of Sasquatch has turned hostile. A whole tribe of them has been living over in Graham County in and around the Nantahala National Forest. Something, or someone, has pissed them off. And, suddenly, they’re everywhere. They’re in Harold’s Supermarket in Sylva, tearing the place and the people to shreds. They’re stopping traffic on U.S. 74/23 and crushing cars. They’ve set the town of Robbinsville on fire. They’re attacking Franklin High School and the Macon County Police Station. They’re everywhere and they are mad. And by the end of the 113 pages of this book, almost all of the main characters are dead and the landscape of Western North Carolina is littered with corpses (both human and Sasquatch) and it looks like a tornado has just laid waste to these hills. Welcome to your first horror-genre book, Mr. Crowe.
While there is enough blood and guts in this book to fill a large DOT dump truck, there is also a well-told story. Eric Brown is a gifted storyteller. He knows how to spin a yarn. And he certainly knows how to keep his readers on the edge of their seats. He structures his book by telling the story of the “Bigfoot War” through the eyes of several different characters in the book. Tom, Becca, Jeff, Powell, Justin, Brent, Marcus, Dirk, Amanda … all who come face-to-face with members of the Bigfoot tribe and have their own “close encounters of the 3rd kind.” Our story, which starts out as a relatively calm yet spooky ghost story with a single Bigfoot encounter, eventually escalates into a full-scale war between the citizens, law enforcement departments, the National Guard and the legions of Sasquatch that keep coming out of the woods in seemingly endless numbers.
With vibrant detail (he doesn’t leave out a broken bone or an ounce of blood), realistic dialogue, and with helicopters falling out of the sky, Brown gets inside our heads and overwhelms our emotions, yet still keeps us coming back to the story, turning the pages, for more. After being initially repulsed by all the gore, I was shocked at my own impulses that kept me going back to the text, again and again, chapter after chapter. I have to admit that I probably wouldn’t have been as “taken in” by the book if it had been set in any other region of the country than Western North Carolina. But still, there I was at the end of the book reading the last words to find out the outcome of this horrific drama.
I shop at Harold’s Supermarket in Sylva, but after reading Brown’s Bigfoot War and losing a couple nights of sleep as a result, I’m not sure I’m brave enough to go into the store again. After reading Brown’s realistic description of how that single Sasquatch laid waste to the store’s interior and its clientele, those images are still present for me almost a month later. Like some sage once said: “If you can imagine it, it probably already exists.” If that is true, then there probably are real Bigfoot families living in our WNC woods, and it would be just my luck to be shopping in Harold’s when an angry Bigfoot decided to make an appearance.
But, I guess this is the kind of “thrill,” the “high” people get from reading horror genre fiction. It must be in our DNA somewhere that we like to be scared. Why else would we keep coming back for more? And why would Eric Brown be the best-selling author he is. Lets face it, a good story is a good story. We all like a good stories. And Bigfoot War is a story well-told. So, kudos to our young savant horror-fiction writer from WNC, Eric S. Brown.
But there is more in this book (as there is in any book that is worth its salt) than just a storyline made of violence, blood and gore. There is also an undercurrent and unstated theme of humans and the environment, of man-against-nature. And in the end, guess who wins?
Bigfoot War by Eric S. Brown. Coscom Entertainment, 2011. 113 pages