Review of "If You Go Into The Woods" and "The Reset Button" by David Gaughran
Summary:If You Go Into The Woods is a collection of two unsettling short stories.
The title story is set in Caslav, a small town 60 miles east of Prague, Czech Republic. Jiri Beranek is drawn to a nearby forest, captivated by birds hidden high in the trees. Each time he enters, his desire to see the mysterious creatures is checked by his fear of the dark. When he finally forces himself to go farther, he finds a new reason to be afraid. This story was first published by The Delinquent (UK) then selected by Short Story America for inclusion in their anthology of their best stories of 2010.
The bonus story - The Reset Button - is set in Stockholm, Sweden in the depths of winter. Linus Eriksson, a divorced bachelor living alone in his small one-bedroom apartment, is a man with a memory problem: instead of not being able to remember anyone, nobody can remember him. This story is brand new, exclusively available in this e-book.
The two short stories in this collection, If You Go Into The Woods and The Reset Button, capture the psychological thriller genre in its most subtle form. The author himself likens his work to The Twilight Zone, a comparison which is both appropriate and deceiving. If your favorite episodes of that iconic television show involved mad scientists, disembodied brains and doomed lovers parked at the local makeout spot, you might be disappointed in this collection. Gaughran’s works are well-written, eerie, creative and thought provoking...there are no neatly bundled answers or resolutions in this collection.
In If You Go Into The Woods, a small boy is lured into the forest by the chirping of birds, only to find that the noisy avians are not what he expected. Thankfully, Gaughran avoids the expected plot twists. There are no killer, man-eating birds. The chirping is not a ruse to lure the boy to his doom. While the story does end in a satisfying manner, it leaves the reader pondering the implications. Gaughran’s ability to reel in his audience and keep them reeled in even after the story has finished, is the hallmark of great fiction writing.
Likewise, the Reset Button, about a man whom no-one remembers, is a delightfully and unexpectedly creepy story. As in the first story, there is a definitive but in-explicit ending that allows the reader’s imagination some leeway.
For this reviewer, the greatest charm of these stories is that they would be equally at home being told on the page, on the screen or around the campfire. And that is a compliment indeed.
Reviewed by Aubrey Bennet
Buy this collection on Amazon or B&N.