Those Who Came Before


Title: Those Who Came Before

Release date: October 10, 2019

Here we are. The last day of Moncrieff-Mania and we’ll finish off with a bang!

There was a point where coincidentally, J.H. and myself were writing books at the same time based around Indigenous back story’s. I was working on ‘The Stranger,’ she on this stunning release – ‘Those Who Came Before.’

When it was first announced that ‘Those…’ was being released through Flame Tree Press, I was over the moon excited. The next step, the next level as Moncrieff worked towards world domination.

‘Those Who Came Before’ is not an easy read. Between the present day story of an officer trying to find out what happened to some campers and the historical elements of what happened in that area many years before, Moncrieff decided to tackle them head on and the book is elevated because of that.

For me, this was such a stunning read, that it’s worked it’s way into my all-time favorite books list. Moncrieff is a truly amazing writer and this combined so many of the elements that she excels at to combine and create an emotionally driven, carnage filled, gorefest.

Here is my 5 star review (which may contain a tiny spoiler (so sorry!)) that was featured on Kendall Reviews;

“This land is your land, This land is my land,

This land was made for you and me.”

Throughout this read, these two lines and most of the ‘This Land is Your Land,’ song played throughout my head. Originally written by Woody Guthrie, this was a rebuttal at the time to the frequent playing/airing of ‘God Bless America.’

Whether J.H. Moncrieff had this tune in the back of her mind while writing this story isn’t known, but the lyrics (and in my case the modified Canadian lyrics I grew up hearing) were synonymous with what played out.

Let’s get into the meat and potatoes of ‘Those Who Came Before,’ shall we?

Strong Lake.

Reece, his girlfriend Jess as well as her friend Kira and boyfriend Dan, head to Strong Lake to go camping during the long weekend. Unfortunately the campground is closed, but that doesn’t stop them. They bust in, find a site and decide to have some fun. A discovery of an odd tree begins a horrific story and a sprint through Native American lore. Then after the other three go to bed, Reece hears a voice, so close you’d think it was directly behind him; “You’re not welcome here.”

J.H. Moncrieff has returned with a stunning, new tale of supernatural horror wrapped in a small town’s history of bigotry and racism.

“As I went walking that ribbon of highway,

I saw above me that endless skyway;

I saw below me that golden valley

This land was made for you and me.”

I became a huge fan of J.H.’s previous work, loving ‘Return to Dyatlov Pass,’ ‘The Bear Who Wouldn’t Leave,’ and most recently ‘Monsters In Our Wake.’ J.H. creates startling tales filled with characters that feel real. I love how much depth she gives even to the smallest of characters and in this story that character building shines. Sometimes to the detriment of the reader. In this case, I really couldn’t stand Reece at the beginning. He comes off as uncaring towards his girlfriend and simply staying with her because they have great sex. Same with Detective Greyeyes husband, Ben. Couldn’t stand the character. I didn’t like how flippant he felt towards their marriage or towards Greyeyes job. If you’ve married a professional athlete, you know what to expect. Same with a police officer or detective. I’d like to believe Moncrieff made those two like this purposefully, but as it played out they did their jobs effectively.

“I roamed and I rambled and I followed my footsteps,

To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts;

While all around me a voice was sounding,

Saying this land was made for you and me.”

The real gem of this story is the Native American folklore that this story is based on. The forgotten tribe and the story behind them was fantastic. I enjoyed learning more and more about Little Dove, Lone Wolf and then Little Bear. As we found out more about what became of them as well as the connection to the modern day portion of the story, it was really well done. The present day Chief, Kinew was a great character and Moncrieff used his storyline to the absolute limit, pushing how he interacted with Maria and then with Reece to the max and it created a great push and pull dynamic.

By adding in the arrowhead and the visions associated with it, it was a fantastic way to connect the two time lines.

Moncrieff also does a great job working in historical facts. One of the most hideous things that has come to light over the course of indigenous history is the introduction of small pox through infected blankest given as gifts. This is a book that will make you do some research after you are done reading. For me it was done before and during, due to a book release on my end, but also wanting to do some due diligence of my own. One of the most shocking statistics I found, which J.H. herself relays in the afterword, is that the last residential school in Canada closed in 1996. I always thought this was something that only occurred back in the 60’s and 70’s. How wrong was I?

“The sun came shining, and I was strolling,

And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling;

As the fog was lifting, a voice was chanting,

This land was made for you and me.”

Of course, no Native American tale like this wouldn’t be complete without the usage of a demon from their tales, and in this case the Wendigo is paramount. There was a reason for Reece going through a transformation throughout this story and with it the use of the Wendigo was a great way to create a monster that is able to move through the forests at will, but also can think and react as a human does.

Recently, when watching the movie The Ritual, based on Adam Nevill’s book (which I still have to read) the ‘monster’ character that was featured was outstanding. Moncrieff, with the description used to introduce us to the Wendigo has created a creature to rival Nevill’s. I would absolutely love to see this story be told on the big screen.

At the end of all of this, the climax and the epilogue were outstanding ways to tie it all together. Moncrieff absolutely delivers on the bigotry narrative, the interpersonal dynamics that occur between Native people working a ‘Caucasian’ job who have to then interact with Native’s. Reece’s parents were done well as were a few others, who I won’t describe to avoid spoilers. But from page one to THE END this book delivers time and time again.

Moncrieff continues to elevate her writing game and I hope this book takes everything to the next deserved level. She dedicates this book to Tina Fontaine and the book unravels from there. I’ve included a few links at the end here if you’re interested in reading a bit more on a few things alluded too throughout. At the end of the day, we need to do more and we need to be better.

While Moncrieff has already released a number of outstanding works (I still need to read The Ghost Writer series) this is her masterpiece. In this case though, I have no doubt Moncrieff will continue to churn out stunning releases. She’s one of the BEST authors out there.

Such an amazing book by an amazing author.

Have I convinced you yet to go read Moncrieff’s work? Please, seriously, go snag one of her books.

You can grab a copy of ‘Those Who Came Before’ here;

2 thoughts on “Those Who Came Before

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