31 Shots of Shock: #5 – ‘The Woods’ by Michael Kelly

*Title: ‘The Woods’ by Michael Kelly
Date Read: 05 October 2010
Available Online?: NO (available in The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 21 (Constable & Robinson))
Briefly: As a snowstorm closes in, Ned Creed the local law enforcement officer pays a visit to old Jack, a trapper who has lived alone and isolated in a cabin on the edge of the woods for many a year. Something belonging to a neighbour has gone missing and Ned wants to find out what Jack knows about it.
Afterthoughts: The chills in this very short story, which pays passing tribute to the North American/Canadian mythical creature, the Wendigo, comes not from the visceral or the graphic, but rather from the power of subtle suggestion. Not once is the reader treated to any spectacle of gore or terror, yet afterwards, when one thinks back, a shiver most definitely runs down the spine. It’s interesting to note that in the intro to the story Canadian author Kelly states that he wanted to create a story with as much sparcity as an Hemingway tale. He achieves this briliantly, and the sparcity of character and action compliments the sparcity of setting perfectly.
Notable Quote: “That’s what worries me, Jack. This place, this solitude, this…nothingness. It does things to people.” Ned leaned forward, nodded towards the window. “You ever spot anything out there, in the woods? Anything…strange?”

Rating: ★★★½☆

*Story read as part of my 31 Shots of Shock reading challenge.

About Rob

Rob, a self-confessed bibliophile, is without any hope of rehabilitation. He gets unnaturally excited over anything book-shaped, and if book sniffing were a crime then he would have been locked up years ago (which wouldn't bother him in the slightest provided his cell was lined with books).


  1. Rob,

    Thanks very kindly for your gracious, generous thoughts. Glad you liked the story.

    • Rob (Twitter: robaroundbooks)

      Wow, thanks for taking the time to drop by and say Hi, Michael. VERY MUCH appreciated.
      Keep up the good work

  2. Oh Wow! This is something I am sure I will like, not having the book is such a sad thing. But I will put this title into my wishlist.