Lost and Found by E. Michael Lewis

LOST

Lost and Found by E. Michael Lewis
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Historical, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (52 pages)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Some things were never meant to be found.

When a family goes missing in the wilds of Washington State, veteran outdoorsman Ken Holbrook agrees one last time to lead a team of teenage search-and-rescue trainees—a joker, a brain, an Eagle Scout, a cute couple and a bully—deep into the forest to find them. But their compasses point them in wrong directions, their terrain doesn’t match their maps, and their radio—their only link to the outside world—spews only static. They will soon discover that the family they are looking for is not the only thing lost in those woods. Something truly terrible waits for them. Ken and his team of misfits will have to work together to battle a relentless, faceless evil if they hope to get out of the woods alive.

Getting lost in the woods can be terrifying but going into the wild to save lost hikers should be straightforward, right? What can possibly go wrong when one is carrying emergency supplies, travelling in a group and is in regular radio contact with the outside world?

Ken Holbrook has the physique of a young man and the chronic irritation of an old hero who is more than ready to allow a new generation to take over his life’s work. When I was first introduced to him I pictured someone who was at least sixty so it came as a shock to realize he hadn’t even celebrated his thirtieth birthday yet. A decade of rescuing people from life-threatening wilderness emergencies has aged Ken before his time. While this was never directly stated I got the impression that he’d grown weary of saving folks from circumstances they created by making dumb decisions and ignoring common-sense safety precautions while hiking or camping. Ken’s utter exasperation with humanity makes sense in this light. While I don’t advocate blaming the victim when the unexpected happens I do agree there is something to say for respecting Mother Nature and being over-prepared when travelling through a remote area.

The teenagers who accompany Ken on his rescue mission were disappointingly stereotypical. The intelligent student has poorly-controlled asthma, the bully is dim-witted and the sole female character crumples in the face of danger. While I understand the need to introduce new people to the plot quickly I would have enjoyed this story more if the author had surprised us. Show me an Eagle Scout who faints at the sight of blood, an honor roll student who is dyslexic, or a girl who goes on this kind of mission because she’s interested in the outdoors and helping others (and not because her boyfriend likes it) and I will be much more emotionally invested in what happens to them later on in the tale.

With that being said the pacing of Lost of and Found was excellent. It’s difficult to talk about the climax without accidentally giving out spoilers but what Ken and his team discover is truly creepy. The next time I go hiking certain scenes from this book will wiggle out of the recesses of my mind and refuse to be forgotten as I slowly walk deeper into the shadows.

Lost and Found is a good choice for anyone in the mood for a slow-burning horror novel that is as good at building suspense as it is in delivering what it promises.

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