While camping in a remote location, Maddie Davenport gathers around the fire with her friends and family to tell scary stories. Caleb, the handsome young guide, shares the local legend of the ferocious Mountain Men who hunt unsuspecting campers and leave their mark by carving grisly antlers into their victims' foreheads.
The next day, the story comes true.
Now Maddie and her family are lost in the deep woods--with no way out--being stalked by their worst nightmares. Because there were other, more horrifying stories told that night--and Maddie's about to find out just how they end...
I’m sorry, but this is the worst book I’ve read this year. I hate writing one-star reviews, and when this one showed up in the mail I was stoked, but it just didn’t hold any of the potential promises to me in the blurb. I’m a girl named Chelsea (name of one of the characters in the book) born in the 90’s, so on paper this should have been right up my alley. Sadly, I found myself bored due to the lack of horror here. Maybe I’m too desensitized by the wide array of disturbing novels available today, but this one felt very “been there, done that”. Unfortunately this predictable read just didn’t work for me. Hoping other readers take to it better than I did!
*Review copy provided via the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
**3.5-stars rounded up because I feel like this book deserves a higher overall rating**
((How's that for honesty?))
When Maddie Davenport heads out on a camping trip with family and friends, she has no idea that it is a trip that will change her life forever.
But we all know what can happen when teens go camping.
Y'all, this book is a teen slasher flick come to the page!!
If you enjoy campy, bloody, sometimes ridiculous movies like Cabin Fever, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Friday the 13th, House of Wax or Wrong Turn, I think you could enjoy this.
It's all about the mindset you go in with.
I was looking for silly slasher that would make me nostalgic for my Junior High years, devouring every Fear Street book I could get my hands on.
This did that. It gave me exactly what I wanted.
This does definitely read on the younger side of YA, so if you aren't into Tween reads, I would steer clear. I would say the ideal audience is readers from 7th through 10th grade, which is completely fine.
People in that age group deserve to have books too and for a fun, Spooktober read, this is great.
The writing is simplistic and the storyline is easy to follow.
There are a ton of flawed characters to hate on, so when bodies start dropping, you probably won't shed too many tears.
If you are looking for a quick read, something to remind you of your younger years, when you first started to learn that scaring yourself is fun, you should check this one out.
I was laughing out loud to the cheesy lines at the end. It was a good time.
Glad I picked it up and I feel like you should too!
Maddie, with her friends and family, ventures into the woods for a camping vacation. The first evening, they all gather around the campfire to tell scary stories about Mountain Men that have a The Hills Have Eyes feel to them. Someone might have even brought an acoustic guitar to make things exponentially worse.
By the next evening, weird things have been happening around the campsite and Maddie realizes that the scary stories they told the night before are coming to true.
It sounds like it should be a bloody, stabby, scary good time, unfortunately, it’s a bit of a dud.
It’s not scary, the teen drama is ridiculous, the writing is mediocre, the dialogue was full-on cringe, and every last character was so annoying I couldn’t roll my eyes hard enough. It also came across as if the author has no idea how drugs and alcohol affect a person, and instead wrote scenes based on a Just Say No pamphlet from the Reagan years.
And poor, sweet Maddie!! Unfortunately, she was written with no idea how teen girls behave or speak or feel. The only clear personality trait Maddie was given was the need to drool, fawn and gush over boys. Please. The lack of depth was really just sad.
You can tell that a lot of this book is just a copy of a copy of a copy in terms of style and character creation. There are so many stereotypes I could barely keep up with them.
If this was written as an absurd satire, in the vein of a campy '80s horror low-budget movie, maybe I would have liked it better. But it’s clearly trying to be taken seriously as a horror novel and for that, it just doesn’t work.
Campfire is not scary, it’s not gory, the characters are done an injustice and the plotline is both cliché and ridiculous.
Welp, total disappointment for me. Another example of an interesting summary hiding a bland, all-over-the-place story.
Stupid, uninteresting characters that seemed too under-develop their characteristics with each chapter and then with 180 degree changes coming out of nowhere! Give me a little buildup or something to make it believable.
I won this book through a Goodreads Giveaway. Spoilers ahead.
Yikes. And not in a good way.
This book was simply atrocious. It was, by far, one of the worst books I've ever read. I got through it quickly for a few reasons - first, because I wanted to push through so I could move on to something better, and second, because the simple sentence structures reminded me of a children's book, so it didn't take much interpretative power to read and understand.
I'm going to limit myself to three major criticisms.
1. Writing Style: I don't really know how or why this book was presented by James Patterson, or really why it was published by Little, Brown at all. The writing style is beyond juvenile. The sentence structure really bothered me, in particular - most of the sentences were choppy, so there was no flow or melody to the narration at all. The language was extremely lacking, and the use of certain bland descriptors (things were often "bad") made this story clunky, awkward, and extremely unpleasant to read. I would have been more understanding of the language difficulties had this been a first draft of a novel written in a high school or college creative writing class, but I don't expect this lack of literary craftmanship from a major publishing house. Really disappointing.
2. Characters: I don't even know where to begin with this one. My mind still rebels at every single character, all of them crafted heavily around stereotypes and given very little depth. Maddie, the main character, is a sixteen-year-old girl who enjoys running, gossiping with her "best friend and sister" Chelsea (who was her former school bully, go figure), and crushing on older boys. She possesses little charm, few marks of intelligence, and nothing beyond "long blonde hair" to mark her as distinct in any way. Maddie and her companions (a mix of family, family friends, and a nature guide) venture into the mountains for a camping trip, where they experience a series of horrific murders based loosely on a campfire story their nature guide told them one night. The "adult" characters are riddled by their past and present grievances - namely, everyone's parents are sleeping together in a weird extension of their frat and sorority days in college, a few of them have plotted the murder of one of their wives, some have serious alcohol and gambling addictions, and others thrive on blackmail. The absurdity of the entire situation is fueled by the fact that none of these characters have any backstory or particular relevance to the central plot, and their problems are not unpacked adequately in order for the audience to care about them or even interpret their antics as anything beyond ridiculous, overplayed, and unrealistic. The irony is that most of the story revolves around Maddie, her "best friend" (we are relentlessly reminded of this fact) Chelsea, and a few other siblings, cousins, and friends who are all teenagers. So, essentially, none of the adult characters really matter in the end anyway, especially because they all end up dead. But don't worry - even though 90% of the book's characters end up dead, you won't really care or react because they never felt like real people in the first place.
3. Just About Everything Else: I've spoken briefly above about plot, setting, etc. There are so many problems with all of it that I don't feel justified wasting too much time and space talking about them, but just know that this book had few redeeming qualities for me. Readers can expect to be disappointed with the plot structure, red herrings, and the eventual reveal. It just reads as, frankly, a silly, silly story. I still don't know where the heck this story is set... at least, I don't remember if the narrator ever tells the audience where these characters live and go on their camping trip. And the three "campfire story" chapters seemed horribly out of place and pointless in the end. If the author would have focused more on the Mountain Men story as part of the main plot and not as an aside, perhaps he could have salvaged this work. But then again, maybe not.
Strangely, I would have liked this book much more if it had been billed as a satire, poking fun at poorly-plotted and executed horror films that end up being more comedic than scary. However, it's clear that this book is meant to be taken seriously as a horror story, and that's the real horror.
Christopher Pike, R.L. Stine...and now Mr. Shawn Sarles.
CAMPFIRE is a scaldingly scary (and nostalgic) trip through 90's horror, happily bringing forth all your worst nightmares of being trapped in asylums, and lost in the woods, while thunderstorms threaten, and bloodthirsty creatures (who like to slit throats, and carve antlers into foreheads) roam loose in the shadows.
Sarles, with his vivid, frothy writing, demonstrates the passion, humor, and care of a true horror aficionado. Fans of ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK? will tear through CAMPFIRE in one sitting, from this talented debut author.
I seriously HATED this book. Wow wow. The characters were 1 dimensional and ANNOYING! It was clear from the beginning that the author was a man. The way he wrote these teenage girls gave me a headache. I’ve never met a teenage girl who talks like these characters...ughhh. Each and every character was a cookie cutter of every basic characteristic you could think of. They were nothing unique. They all read like toddlers. Dialogue was so CRINGE..And the story was borinnnnggg. I want to be scared, even a littttttle bit scared. Nope. Snooze. I skimmed that last 150 pages. Seriously, the whole thing was a huge, poorly written, cliche. Even the “twist ending” sucked. Sorry. I hate doing this. But wow.
Esta novela nos presenta una premisa que hemos oído, visto y temido en varias oportunidades: "¿qué pasaría si lo que contas en una historia de terror se vuelve realidad?". ¿Por qué contarnos historias espeluznantes alrededor del fuego, a sabiendas de que eso posiblemente no nos permita dormir por la noche? O más propicio en este caso, ¿por qué contar historias de terror bajo la luna llena, aún bajo la advertencia de que hacerlo podría traer terribles consecuencias? Contamos historias de terror porque amamos el vértigo que éstas nos producen, el cosquilleo en el estómago que nos genera la sola idea de pensar que algo así de horrible pudo haber sido imaginado por otro ser humano, porque nos encanta experimentar con nuestras emociones, entre tantos otros motivos. Desde luego esto no sería igual si supiéramos que todo lo contado podría tener un giro realista y sangriento en nuestras vidas. De eso se trata Campfire, solo que de una manera más original.
No esperaba demasiado de la novela, la compré porque desde el primer momento en el que la vi me dejó haciendo ruido en la cabeza su hermosa portada y su curiosa sinopsis. Todo sonaba como algo que yo apreciaría en mi biblioteca. A último momento lo compré y tan pronto tuve el tiempo deseado para leerlo con tranquilidad, me adentré y lo devoré en pocos días. La historia es sumamente amena, y de seguro traerá buenos recuerdos a los afortunados que hayan tenido la oportunidad de irse de campamento y contar historias de miedo con sus pares. Una novela sencilla, pero con giros bastante inesperados.
****Thank you to Jimmy Patterson Books for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!****
****Trigger Warnings: Parent Death, Grief, Physical Abuse, Drug and Alcohol Consumption, Animal Death (Brief Scene), Violence, and Gore****
I have to say I’m always looking for a good YA horror book to read and “Campfire” seemed to fit the bill. While it wasn’t all I was hoping for it was still an enjoyable summer read! I like to think I’m a pretty seasoned horror reader/watcher so it takes a lot to actually scare me, this one didn’t really, but I can see it being enough to creep other readers out.
The story revolves around a group of family and friends going up into the mountains on a week long camping trip, however, in order to help pass the time they decide to start telling spooky stories around the campfire. The guide mysteriously warns them that stories told around a campfire on the full moon tend to come true. That’s pretty much the gist of the story without spoiling anything, some creepy stuff does start happening hence the fact that this IS a horror book but as I said I didn’t think it was all that scary. Fun. But not scary. It has a classic slasher/B-Horror movie feel to it and as I already briefly mentioned I think some readers will find this perfectly creepy enough though.
There were also a lot of side plots happening and overall it felt like the story was a bit all over the place, it wasn’t too messy but it felt like a bit much at the same time. There’s a lot of family drama going on while they’re out on this camping trip and when I say family drama I mean pretty much everything you can think of, but I won’t go into detail since I don’t want to spoil anything. It was a little too much drama being crammed into a horror story, nothing ever felt that shocking to me because of how much there was that was happening.
One thing I did like about all of the side stuff going on though was that when they told their campfire stories we actually read through the stories. It was pretty fun to read some scary stories within a scary story, I liked the idea!
Overall it was a pretty quick read for me, the writing style was very easy to read and at times felt more like a Middle Grade than a Young Adult. I didn’t mind this too terribly much but it was pretty jarring to go from some immature/cheesy sounding teenager’s dialogue to blood, gore, and general horror. The pacing was decently fast as well, there weren’t any boring lulls and there was pretty much something constantly happening.
The ending had a pretty good plot twist, one I didn’t see coming at all. So props to Shawn Sarles for really throwing me off his track! However, there was just something a little too convenient and abrupt about the twist like it made sense but at the same time felt weird which therefore made the ending feel pretty weird. I can’t discuss it too much because you know…spoilers and all but I liked that the twist surprised me but I didn’t like how the twist or ending was played out.
Just a little side thought: I liked the mountain/wilderness, camping, campfire story setting and feel of the book. It definitely makes for a great summer night read or book to take with you camping in my opinion.
The characters were all just sort of okay and I really wasn’t expecting much since in horror books and movies the characters don’t tend to be too complex because they’re just going to get killed off anyways. We did get a pretty good backstory with our main character, Maddie, and she was the most developed character. I actually felt more for her than anyone else just because we got more insight into her character and what she’s been through. I did really like her relationship with Chelsea, her best friend, it was a very positive female friendship and I liked how they went from enemies to friends when they were younger and bonded over their mutual loss.
The only other character with some personality was the guide, Caleb, who also played the role of the love interest. He’s just a sweet guy and I liked him!
As for everyone else in the camping group, they were either super one dimensional or just plain annoying. Everyone pretty much fit into classic horror story stereotypes but not in a good, fun way. The kids/teens were all 10x smarter than the adults, which felt ridiculous. Like the out of this entire group of people there isn’t one smart or logical adult? Come on. The adults all got on my nerves so much, I am not kidding when I say the kids made smarter decisions.
There is a bit of romance in “Campfire” in the form of an unrequited crush. Maddie is moony-eyed over the cute guide, Caleb, but there is a bit of an age gap (she is 16 and he’s 22). I did think both characters were adorable though and while it did tend to get a bit annoying when she kept observing him longingly throughout the entire book, the romance didn’t completely overshadow the plot.
What I Loved:
Fast pacing Reading the scary campfire stories within the story Surprising plot twist at the end Decent main character/heroine Positive female friendship Sweet, adorable love interest Romance didn’t overshadow the plot Overall camping/campfire atmosphere
What I Didn’t Love:
Overall didn’t creep me out or scare me Too much extra family/friend drama Writing and dialogue felt a little immature at times Ending didn’t feel realistic or very believable Side characters were one dimensional and very annoying Teens made smarter decisions than the adults 100% of the time (this felt unrealistic to me)
This is a tough book for me to pin down my feelings on, it did have it’s issues but it was still enjoyable enough. I would say if you’re a horror buff looking for a good scare then maybe this isn’t for you but if you’re looking for a fun, suspenseful summer campfire read then I’d say this is worth checking out. Also if you’re easily scared and like it I’d check this one out too!
This was awesome fun. It had a high body count, lots of violence and blood and some good campfire tales thrown in for good measure. If you are a fan of 80s/90s slasher films then this will probably be a good time.
I didn't personally find this book scary and I doubt most horror fans will but people not used to the genre might find this book quite creepy.
This has a lot of horror violence/death in it so if that is something that bothers you - I would skip this one.
Campfire by Shawn Sarles has so much potential to be an awesomely terrifying YA horror novel in the vein of R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike, but unfortunately it never quite managed to live up to my expectations. It moves along quickly and there are a few decent thrills, but the characters are flatly forgettable - and the plot is too predictable for my tastes among other things. The horror genre is one of my favorites when it comes to books, movies, and tv and I'm pretty sure I've seen it all before.
Five years ago Maddie lost her mother to a horrific accident. Ever since then, extended family and friends have made it a point to take vacations together each year and this year, they are going on a two week camping excursion. What starts out as fun takes a deadly turn when the campfire tales they starts sharing slowly come to life. Everyone is suspect and it's a race for survival to see who will come out alive.
I really had pretty low expectations when I picked up "Campfire" from my local library. I didn't even expect to read it as soon as I did but I picked it up on a whim and pretty much devoured it in a 24-hour time period. I wanted a fun slasher-type read and although I had a few issues with the novel, in the end, it hit the spot. I will caution anyone who is thinking about picking this up that the book is pretty slow in the beginning. Basically it takes about 180 pages for the real action to start. Up until then, it's pretty much some back story and people camping. The main thing that save those first 180 pages though are the campfire tales. Each night, when an individual takes a turn, that tale becomes it's own chapter with a story title. It's a nice addition and keeps the reader engaged.
Finally, when the action does start taking place, the pace quickens and the fun begins. The author really had me guessing about who/what was going on and threw a few twists and turns in I totally didn't expect. There is some normal teenage angst, which is to be expected since it's a YA novel, but it wasn't too annoying. There is no insta-love, but there is an insta-crush, which I didn't mind because Maddie totally realized what it was and didn't try to make it into some love at first sight connection.
If you are looking for a fun read, then consider "Campfire." It's a solid debut in my opinion and even though the beginning of the book was struggling to be even a 3/5 read, the ending really made my overall opinion jump.
Campfire is a suspenseful tale about long-held grudges. twisted and dysfunctional relationships, vengeful hate-filled insanity and premeditated murders which turn an assumingly innocent family and friends' camping trip into horror. The isolation in the dark woods, the scary stories told around the campfire, and family secrets all come to a head as the real life gore, deaths and fear engulf the campers with everyone wondering if the stories are coming true and everyone becomes suspicious of everyone else. The actual telling of the campfire stories by the characters allows the reader to believe he is a part of the group sitting around the fire and listening as well.
This is definitely a YA read with all the teenage angst about friendship, fitting in, bullying, romantic crushes, loyalty, and struggles of right and wrong behavior. The adults are presented as worse than the teens in their secrets and behaviors, not realizing the teens are well aware and disapproving. The story takes a while to "rev up" but when the action comes the story takes off with a twist at the end.
This is a fun ya book reminiscent of RL Stine. Maddie and her family and friends go camping for a week in Colorado and the scary stories they tell around the fire start to come true. Pretty high body count and a few surprises along the way. 3.5 stars
I loved every second of this book the twist at the end was unexpected but not unwelcome it just made the story so much better. I really liked the characters especially Maddie, Chelsea, and Caleb the friendship between Maddie and Chelsea was just so amazing it was made even better when what happened at the end happened. I loved the story even the whole horror movie element which was just like a slasher film it was still very engaging and kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time. So overall I loved this book and will read anything else he publishes in the future.
When I read that this book was perfect for fans of the television show ARE YOU AFRAID THE DARK? my inner geek came out in full force. I am a little obsessed with that show, and as a kid, I devoured R.L. Stone and Christopher Pike books. I have long been wishing that nineties-style horror would make a comeback, and so reading CAMPFIRE made me a bit giddy. (Even the title is great!) I love the "story within a story" format as the characters tell stories around the campfire, and I love the twist that elements of the tales start to come true. So many classic horror tropes are woven into this story in unique and fresh ways. Not only is the book super-creepy, but the characters are complex, with well-developed backstories that come to play important parts in the novel. I have often tried (and failed) to write scary stories myself, and I am having total writer-envy over what a fabulous job Sarles did with this book. I am looking forward to reading more of his books!
Oh wow. This book took a turn. It was not what I expected. That twist toward the end of the book was great.
This book is about a group a kids and parents that take a weekend campfire trip. As a normal campfire, you have to tell scary stories around the fire.
One by one, stories were told and things begin to happen in the nights to follow. But when you think you know the story and what you think is going to happen, it took a turn that I did not see coming.
That twist at the end drew me in and I was holding my mouth open. Just when you think its monsters you are fighting, the truth comes out. I had no idea that this story was going in this way. Way to go to the author for being so discreet in story and flipping it on us.
If you love scary books, this one is okay for scary but it isn't what you think. But it does have the feel of the story "Are you afraid of the Dark."
I wanted to love this one, I really did. But it took almost 180 pages in for the actual mystery and horror to start. Sure, there were a few almost jump scares before then, but nothing all that interesting. It was much more about Chelsea and the drama with her brother and his girlfriend.
I also got lost with all the adults. This uncle, this family friend. Who was related to her mom? I'm done and I honestly don't even know.
The ending was, however, a complete surprise and the book gets an extra star just for the sheer bloody gore that was the end. I wish the story had started scarier much earlier.
I hate to give such low starred reviews, however, this one was just really bad. I only made it 65 pages only to DNF it.
The writing was bad, and obviously written by a man. A man who knows nothing about teenage girls. It becomes obvious very quickly. If I heard one more female character complaining/gushing/flirting with a male character one more time, I was ready to tear my eyes out.
On page 65 you will be in the middle of the first “scary” story. It’s. So. Bad.
Extremely disappointed in the outcome of this one, I was really looking forward to reading some spooky stories.
I received this ARC in a fair trade with another blogger. My review is completely honest and voluntary, I was in no way compensated for this review.
Shawn Sarles’ debut Campfire just screamed perfect read for me! I looove a good thriller and this one was as twisted and chilling as I anticipated! Add in a few surprises that I wasn’t expecting and you have the makings of one GREAT read!
The story starts off simply, after a tragic accident that took Maddie’s mother’s life five years ago, she’s managed to move past that terrible day. It’s the summer before her brother is off to college, so the family has planned a great weeklong camping trip with their family and friends. Everything is off to a great start. They have a super cute guide for the woods, they have horseback riding adventures, telling scary stories around the fire, and a few typical family squabbles, but all is pretty much perfect…until it’s not!
One thing I really liked about this book was how we got to see the campfire stories as their own chapters. They weren’t common stories, at least not to my knowledge, and they were pretty eerie if not out and out scary. There were a total of three stories and it was the last one that was the most chilling. One that led you to wonder if there was more to the story than its teller was letting on.
I’ll admit that the pacing was a tad slower than I had anticipated based on its length. I was thinking that at any moment the scary parts were about to happen, but in reality that turning point didn’t really come about until we were nearly 2/3 into the story. It made the pacing in between those moments a little slower and it might have dragged a bit as other points were being expanded upon. But once we hit that moment, when the first body is finally found, from that moment on, things are just intense!!
The killer begins picking off the campers one by one and you get the feeling that either there’s a true psychopath on the loose—like from one of the stories—or the even scarier thought, the killer is one of them! Cue the dramatic theme music—dun, dun, DUNNNN!
I have to say that Shawn really surprised me with this treacherous twist! I felt like I had totally nailed down the killer and in a way, I did have it, but in true author fashion, Shawn twisted it up even more and the true reveal had me just shocked!! Like I wasn’t even expecting this to happen. I might I have briefly considered it at one point because of its outrageousness, but it was such a fleeting thought that I dismissed it before fully thinking it through! Lol! Those are the moments that really nag at me when it comes to mysteries! That I was so close to getting it, but just dismissed the idea! Lol!
I thought that Maddie was a pretty awesome main character. I liked that she was realistic when it came to a thriller. She’s not the type to scream bloody murder, standing still as the killer rushes at her. She fights to live, she may not be as tough as nails to take the killer on, but she’s no whimpering damsel either. She’s very real in that sense.
The ending to this one, as I said, totally blew me away! I love when an author can do that to me. Though I will admit, I was still a little puzzle behind the killer’s motives for everything. But in the long run, I guess crazy doesn’t need a motive. I mean, I understood the reasons that were being tossed about, but how does one get to that point of insanity without the slightest hint? Despite not really seeing the killer for who they (yes, improper usage of a noun to avoid revealing the identity) were all along, I still gotta admit that I liked being taken by surprise like that! Those shocking reveals get me every time and it’s just such a thrill! Lol!
Campfire is the perfect summer read! It’s a creepy little thriller that will keeping you guess long before it’s over! This is definitely one you’ll want to read when you go camping out in the deep, dark woods, far from humanity and the city. It’s going to keep you up in the long, dark nights, that’s for sure! Be sure to pack extra flashlights and enjoy this edgy read that will keep you turning the pages one by one!