“Terror in Appalachia” is the second book in the “Terror Series” of books written by J. Esker Miller. The series appears to be the first work by the author, and both stories are currently available in audiobook format on Audible. The audiobook’s narration was performed by Ward Paxton who is a narrator which I have not had the pleasure to listen to until now. The story, as one can tell from the title, is a horror-based monster vs. man survival tale. The listener is shown the perspective of both the human and the creature side; with both have their own agendas and opinions about the other. Although the title has the word “terror” in it, I did not find it overly focused on the more graphic horror elements. It should be noted that I did not listen to the first book in the series, so this review is only based on the one book. If you are a fan of monster or survival type stories with portions of suspense, I think you may enjoy listening to this audiobook.
A small community is in the path of some wild creatures who are harming the locals. We learn later in the book (and from the publisher’s summary) that they are powerful large wolves. However, at first the town is not sure if it is a Bigfoot or Wampus type creature, and until they can capture or kill one it remains a mystery. The story revolves around a new ranger who is put in charge to track down and address the threat of these beasts. As we see, these people often are not trusting of outsiders, and they feel most issues can be resolved by those within the community. James, our newly assigned ranger, needs to not only track down the creatures but also befriend the community he is wanting to help. As things begin to evolve, word gets out and there is quite an influx of monster hunters and others bringing with them their own issues; debauchery ensues in places. TV shows like “Ghost Hunters”, but for monsters, exaggerate the situation by bring more onlookers to what used to be a quiet and peaceful mountain location.
The author did a great job of allow the listener to understand just how unique and different the areas of the Appalachians are from the typical United States city or small town. Not only is the location rather different, like with the old TV Series “The Waltons”, the people and their activities can also seem rather strange to outsiders. There is a level of reluctance to trust anyone outside of the community and even more the law such as the FBI or other government agencies. The author displayed just how secluded and vast these mountains can be as well. One does not easily run down to the local market and pick up goods like you could in a bigger town. Even the language between locals is a bit unique which an outsider needs to understand. We are also shown that not all problems can be solved by locals as well.
I found the telling of the story from both perspectives refreshing. It took me a bit to grasp the concept as the wolves also had ways of referring to themselves to other wolves; such as via given names. The story has a fair amount of mystery and suspense keeping the listener engaged. There are a fair number of horror genre tropes in this story which should not be a surprise. We have an evil creature, odd locals, the evil man, government officials, and news crews all tripping over one another while trying to resolve their dire situation. A few of the characters and their circumstances felt forced to me while others were not. We have troubled family lives involving divorce, work related hardships with being reassigned, and more. A few of the event seemed too well timed to be coincidental and I would have like to have had a few more “ah-ha” moments remembering back to a previous event where the character learned or received some object they would later use to solve the problem. If you are a fan of the horror genre, some of this book may be predictable. However, the author did include some twists making it feel fresh and new in many places.
The audiobook’s narration by Ward Paxton was good for the number of books he has previously narrated. The volumes and pace of reading was solid from start to finish. Apart from a few slight patches to the audio where it seemed content was added post-production, the audiobook had a good flow. Overall, the voicing of the many different characters was done well. I know it can be difficult to voice characters of the opposite gender, and I will say the narrator had more difficulty with female and younger characters with higher voices than with male ones. something one can quickly adjust to as they listen.
Parents and younger readers, there are some scenes which could be considered graphic or violent as one would expect from books in the horror genre. There are also aspects of alcohol and drug use in various places which may be inappropriate for younger listeners. Additionally, there is a rather descriptive sex scene and some light romance as well. I do not believe the author intended the story to be listened to by younger audiences.
In summary, the book was enjoyable and suspenseful. Although it had some slow periods and the use of stereotypical characters, it was still one which I enjoyed listening to. The locations and scenes were vivid, but I would have liked to have had more depth and complexity to many of the characters. If you are a fan of this type of creature feature, I recommend you give it a listen.