Author: Peter Hammarberg
Release date: May 7th, 2016
If you read any of my reviews, you know I typically start off with sharing how the book came to be on my TBR. Well, this one’s a fun one (at least I think so!) and one of the stranger ones!
Recently, a movie blasted it’s way onto Netflix that had everyone watching it and loving it. That movie was TROLL. I watched it with my son, who you may already know loves creature feature/Kaiju and Kaiju-adjacent movies, and we loved it. I think we’ve watched it five or six times now and each time is just a fun time. The movie itself is really well done, as many of the foreign films are, because it takes the story seriously and isn’t all about big explosions and catchy one-liners. The movie was co-written by Espen Auken and it turned out that we followed each other on Twitter and Instagram. We have messaged a bunch over that time, Espen kindly answering some questions that my son had (yes, there is a quick moment that is an ode to Jurassic Park in the movie!) and I sent him a copy of ‘Churn the Soil.’ Well, Espen had posted about this book, ‘GRAVENFROST’ by an author I’d not heard of and after reading the synopsis and reveling in the glorious cover art, I knew I needed to read it.
I went in with great excitement and I have to say – this book pushed me in a way I wasn’t expecting – but HOLY HELL, was this a fun time.
What I liked: ‘GRAVENFROST’ follows outcast FBI Special Agent Bobby Doyle who heads to the town of Gravenfrost to investigate the deaths of a group of ghost hunters. Only one of them survived, but it was all caught on film, and it took place at a notoriously haunted house, which means Doyle aka the agent tasked with ridiculous cases involving this type of phenomenon is sent out.
I’ve said this a million times in my reviews and online – I don’t like humor in my dark fiction. I never have. It typically throws me right out of the story and makes it hard for me to stay focused and on task. But Hammarberg didn’t care what I thought when he wrote this and Bobby Doyle is not only a massive dick, but a hilarious SOB and it just worked. I raced through this. The best way I can describe his character is this – David Duchovny played Fox Mulder on The X Files. Duchovny also played Hank Moody in the fantastic Californication. Bobby Doyle is Hank Moody as Fox Mulder. Just a frat-boy, ass hat who doesn’t hold back and makes quips, snarky comments and whatever comes into his mind at that exact moment. He’s essentially me in real life and I loved it. His character worked so well, but with the secondary characters, it really had me in stitches.
The story races along as we learn what happened and what Doyle needs to do to end the horror happening at the house, known as The Devil’s Domicile. There are some really frightening moments but those are typically bookended but some really well done set up and knock down scenes, which allows the action to be nicely paced.
The ending is really well done, as well as the closing out of the characters. It definitely sets things up for more in this world. I hope we get to revisit Bobby Doyle. Even though this came out in 2016, there could still very well be another novel coming at some point.
What I didn’t like: I think I would’ve liked it if we would’ve had one more huge scare moment. We get a couple, but the ending is more bash and boom than oooh’s and aaahh’s. I gotta stay spoiler free, but I really wish we would’ve seen a big good vs evil moment.
Why you should buy this: ‘GRAVENFROST’ ticks a lot of boxes for those who like dark fiction. We get really fantastic characters, great banter, a really solid set piece with the town of Gravenfrost but also The Devil’s Domicile and we get some really amazing spooks and sequences. I’m frustrated I didn’t come across this one sooner, but hopefully more of you will get on this amazing read after seeing my review!
Now, we await a potential sequel!