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Shawn Sarles Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Campfire (2018)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Shawn Sarles
Shawn Sarles is a horror writer best known for his debut novel Campfire. The western Kentucky born author is a Wake Forest University graduate working in the publishing industry for close to a decade now. Sarles says that his inspiration came from all the scary movies and shows he enjoyed in his younger years, and he is sure that any horror movie fan will love Campfire. The talented author is keen to publish more work in the future, and he is already working on a draft for his second book.

Campfire
Campfire tells the story of Maddie, her family, and friends after a camping expedition turned tragic. The story starts with a heartbreaking accident that took the life of Maddie’s mother five years ago. Through the help of family and friends, Maddie has moved past the terrible day. The extended family and close friends have been vacationing together once every year as a way of keeping the family connected. This year, Maddie’s brother is about to go to college, and the family decides to take a two-week-long camping excursion in the woods to celebrate this milestone. The trip starts on a high note, and aside from having loving people all around her, there is a handsome guide to keep things interesting.

The camp turns out to be everything the family needed. There is horseback riding adventure, typical family disputes, and best of all, a campfire where the family can bond after a day of exploring. The family gathers by the fire on the first night and start sharing scaring stories. Caleb, the local guide, tells the campers about a local legend about mountain men who hunt campers, leaving them with a grisly antler carving on the forehead. Well, no one thinks much about the stories shared by the Campfire until they start coming true in the days that follow. Could it be true that the mountain has ears and makes all stories shared under the full moon true? Could there be a killer among the campers who is executing everything the group shared during their bonding time?
It is clear that the camp is no longer safe, but there is no way for the family to get out. Somehow, everyone has to figure out a way to stay alive or at least die trying to save themselves. So, who is killing the campers, and what is their motivation? Could it be true that mountain killers are lurking in the woods, or is the killer one among the group? Follow Maggie and her family in this spooky adventure to find out. Things will get thick as the story progresses, and it is up to each camper to figure out what to do to stay alive.

One outstanding thing about this story is how the campfire stories add character to it. Written in their chapters, these unique stories inside the main story are scary, to say the least. The book comes with three sub-stories, and the last one is so chilling you will be left wondering what else the teller is hiding. These stories make the readers feel as if they are part of the campers, sitting by the fire and sharing. It is also amazing that they come in their chapters, complete with a title.

The pacing picks up slowly from the first page, but once the first body is discovered, it escalates to dangerous levels until the end. One by one, the campers start disappearing, and no one knows who to trust. Away from the action is normal teenage angst, which is expected since a good portion of the cast is made up of young people. There is an insta-crush that Maddie quickly realizes, so she doesn’t try to turn it into a love story. However, despite their age difference, Maddie can’t help being Mooney eyed over Caleb. Throughout the novel, Maddie will be observing Caleb from a distance but do little if anything about her feelings.

While you will think that you have everything figured out, a treacherous twist along the way will throw you completely off-guard. The author will lead you to believe that you have figured what is happening before introducing a number of unforeseen twists and one dramatic turn that will immediately shift your thinking. Could the legend about the mountain men be true, or is there a psychotic killer among the campers? The ending will blow you away as the killer is finally revealed.

Maddie is a great main character. The author has done a great job of developing her character, so it is easy to care about her and hope that she survives this trip. In the face of it all, the teenage girl doesn’t just stand and wait for the killer to finish the job. She fights, she is real, and while she is not the tough as nails type, she is no damsel in distress either. Maddie and Chelsie’s relationship is excellent, and it is amazing how they become friends and bonded over their loss. Caleb is a great and sweet guy, and you can’t help but hope he and Maddie will make something out of their mutual attraction. The teenagers seem to be much smarter than adults, and it is interesting to see how they react when the bodies start to pile up.

If you are looking for a thrilling summer read, Campfire is ideal. This is a suspenseful story of long-held grudges, dysfunctional relationships, and premeditated murder that turns an innocent family vacation into horror. The scary stories shared around the Campfire add a lot to the story, and the events that follow soon after will leave you at the edge of your seat. There is enough tension to keep you guessing, and the twist and turns will have you glued to the pages. This book is about 180 pages making it perfect for those times you are in need of a quick read. The narration and flow are so good you will most likely gobble it all in one sitting.

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