The Night Will Find Us: A Haunting Review

First of all, holy ****. What an insane premier book for author Matthew Lyons. Not only is it a unique take on the “teenagers go into the woods for a night” horror dynamic, it’s also a well-written odyssey of creepiness, a page-turner, and takes so many unexpected turns. I was intrigued by it from the moment it popped up as a suggestion on Amazon last year. It took me some time to get to it (the list of novels to read only keeps growing!), but I wasn’t disappointed.

Warning: Spoilers ahead.

Readers are introduced to our six high school seniors: Chloe and her cousin, Parker, Adam, Josh, Nicky, and Nate. They are preparing for a summer break celebration by going camping in the woods for a night before the reality of their upcoming college lives sinks in. Chloe has watched her cousin undergo a transformation in the last year following the disappearance of his father. He seems unsettled, disconnected, and violent as he tries to deal with the loss and his mother’s alcoholism. While the other friends are uncomfortable with the changes in their longtime friend, Nate, one of the newer additions to the friend group can only react in the most asshole-ish way possible, by creating further drama and picking at the scabs that Parker has been trying to heal on his own. The trip into the woods only provides more of a catalyst for all of this behavior to hash out and results in the unthinkable happening: Parker shooting Nate and then running into the woods.

The worst is yet to come with Adam becoming separated from the others as well after an altercation with Parker, and the forest changing on everyone in the night, growing thicker and making escape virtually impossible. The book then moves between each of the characters, telling their own stories in addition to furthering the plot along and weaving a horrifying tale of betrayal, ancient terror, and body horror together that had me enthralled for an entire afternoon. Oh, that’s right: I started and finished the book in the span of a few hours. It’s that good.

Lyons’ writing is strong, vivid, and unapologetic. There were times I had to re-read something because I thought, “Oh no he didn’t!”. The “transformation” scene was brilliant and gruesome.

While I thought the characters were believable and each one fairly unique, I think Chloe could have used a little more backstory and possibly something else to make her stand out against the cast of her fellow teens, especially since she had so much page time compared to Nicky (who was wonderfully fleshed out). We know more about Nicky’s home life and struggles in a couple paragraphs than we really do Chloe’s. I get that her relation to Parker gives her some shared trauma in what he’s going through but it isn’t really the same. I wanted a little more personality from her.

There are a few loose ends in this book that some readers might not like. I wasn’t distressed by having a few things unexplained. The author might have another book to write about the woods and the lost town buried in them, and the cosmic horror that is buried beneath the lake. In fact, I feel as though that was left nebulous for that reason entirely. There was enough explanation and backstory to leave me feeling satisfied about resolving the stories of these teens and their nightmare in the woods. I’d definitely be interested in returning to this setting for another character’s story.

All in all, I’d say that Matthew Lyons’ The Night Will Find Us is a terrifyiing debut novel, and totally deserving of that first nomination for a Bram Stoker award. I’m looking forward to reading more of this stuff in the future.

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