2 out of 4 stars
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As a fan of horror/suspense novels, I always jump at the opportunity to read a new story. Sometimes the story flops and sometimes I find a gem. Lost Hope Canyon by Thomas H. Maynard falls somewhere in between. At first, the reader follows a horrific story about a boy named William that loses his mother all too early in life, learns that his maternal grandfather hates him and his father, and watches his father get brutally murdered by a mysterious beast in Lost Hope Canyon. This story is merely the prologue to the majority of the novel. Time quickly jumps forward to 1991, the senior year of college for Patrick and Blake. While working on a research project for class, the duo has to try to prove the existence of Big Foot (or Sasquatch). Their research turns up more than they expected, including a strong connection to mysterious murders and missing people at Lost Hope Canyon. Something about this story feels familiar to Blake, but he brushes aside his concern and gets on with his life. Time jumps yet again as the reader rejoins Blake and Patrick, now settled into their very successful careers. Fate literally draws Blake into a hole-in-the-wall pub, where he has drinks with Gus Etaf (Fate). A gift from Gus reignites Blake's interest in Sasquatch and spurs his obsession with going on a research expedition in Lost Hope Canyon to, or deny, the existence of Big Foot. Blake carefully assembles his team and embarks on an expedition that may be the last one for everyone.
Thomas Maynard shows ingenuity with a new take on an old tale. There have been numerous stories written about Sasquatch, but I have never read a story like this. It combines religion, gore, comedy, and science into one epic journey to face your demons. He started his tale with a story from the past. While this initially had me confused, the purpose became clear later on. Interestingly, interwoven throughout the story of the main characters, Maynard includes a tangential story line of the Sasquatch and his offspring. I actually found myself identifying with the Monarch, the male Sasquatch, as I read about his day-to-day tasks to protect and teach his young. These tangents also helped create an ebb and flow in the suspense of the story.
While the plot was incredibly well thought out, the execution was lacking. The perspective jumps without warning as you are reading and can make it difficult to follow the story until you realize what happened. It would be nice to have an extra line between paragraphs, for example, to help indicate that the point of view has changed. The sentence structure was lacking, at least for a suspense novel aimed at an adult audience. I felt some parts were all too predictable and the sentences were too short and simple. The writing style seems more appropriate for young teens, yet the graphic content makes this book inappropriate for such a young audience. While the details create good imagery in the story, they were a bit stomach-churning; definitely not for the faint of heart. The most consistent fault that I found as I read was the use of incorrect words throughout. For example, always using "want" in place of "won't" and "since" instead of "sense". These errors detracted from the quality of the book, but the plot kept me engaged.
The moral of the story is: your demons are not going to go away unless you turn around and face them. William's mother turned her back on her Amish father after he encouraged the family to reject her for having a child out of wedlock with a non-Amish man. Although William didn't know it, this was a demon that he had to face. Blake has recurring nightmares about the beast that killed William's father and is unable to progress further into the dream until he accepts that he must face the demon, instead of run from it. Once Blake fully realizes what Gus was trying to tell him, fate and destiny collide and Blake finally learns the end of the story. Readers can identify with this lesson as everyone has demons, big or small, that they need to face.
I truly enjoyed reading Lost Hope Canyon by Thomas H. Maynard. It had its faults, but the story was one-of-a-kind. Due to the faults in the plot structure and the numerous mechanical errors, I feel that I can only award this story 2 out of 4 stars.
Lost Hope Canyon
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