Cover Image: Old Country

Old Country

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Member Reviews

It has always been Harry and Sasha's dream to live the remote/self-sustainable rancher's life, so when they find a great deal on a small Idaho property in a valley near the Tetons, they buy it immediately and fall in love with the place as soon as they set eyes on it. Their neighbors are also incredibly friendly and helpful - but they come bearing a strange message about the new home Harry and Sasha have purchased. One that will make the couple question everything they believe in and push them to the edge.

The book alternates between Sasha and Harry's points-of-views.

I hate to give a book a low rating, but this book just did not deliver on its promises. It is listed as a horror novel with an extremely creepy cover, but I just found myself not even a little creeped out throughout the book. I mean, there was a lot of promise for things to ramp up and get seriously scary, but the book just never really got there. I never felt scared. Stressed for them, certainly, given some of the revelations. But never scared.

Also, while I liked Sasha and the couple's neighbors, the Steiners, Harry is a very unlikable Ian character. A former Marine, he's the ultimate "macho man" stereotype who at one point says that he believes that he automatically dislikes anyone who believes in something - like anything. What? It's just cloying at points. Also, the third resident of the valley they live in, Joe, is kind of iffy too. He's painted as a wise figure who is a keeper of knowledge, but I found him haughty and kind of condescending. I didn't buy the explanations as to why he couldn't help out more.

Overall, I admit to being drawn into the book to see what was going to happen, and it didn't take me long to finish, but I was disappointed. You may want to give it a try and see how you react. After all, that's the beauty of reading, different people like different things.
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Old Country is a creepy novel that kept me from sleeping well for a couple of nights. Harry and Sasha move to an isolated area in Idaho that they hope will be their dream home. They do not realize that the area is haunted by an earth spirit that changes forms each season.

I found the story to be very atmospheric as the remote area and seasonal changes were vividly described. The characters were fleshed out but Harry’s character was overdeveloped especially regarding his military background. Actually, I found Harry’s character to be unlikeable and annoying but I guess his behavior made sense in this story. 

Having said all that, I would still highly recommend this book to horror lovers. Parts of the story really crept me out which I loved! I will say that I have never read the Reddit story that this book was based on so I can’t compare the two. I am happy that I read this story. Thanks so much to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me to read this book in exchange for my honest review. I am upgrading my review to 5 stars. This book keeps crossing my mind in a good way!
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It's husband, wife, and dog vs Nature in Old Country, a collaborative horror novel by brothers Matt and Harrison Query. Husband Harry is a former Marine who has seen some big time Shit during his service and desires a return to basics lifestyle away from the bustle of civilization. After wife Sasha realizes her advertising career is doable completely remote, the two decide to trade in Denver for the open sky. Finding a 40 acre home in the Teton Valley of Idaho, Harry and Sasha pack up their lives (and lovable golden retriever Dash) and head out to live off the land in pursuit of a simpler life. However, their peace is soon disturbed by a bizarre visit from new neighbors Dan and Lucy Steiner, who warn them of a malevolent spirit haunting the valley, the different shapes it takes depending on the seasons, and the set of "rules" they must follow to remain safe. 

- Is there a better trope in horror than the power, beauty, and fear inspired by vast unknowable nature? Definitely not, and it's always nice to see it employed. 
- Dash the dog is a very good boy and probably the best character. 

- On the converse, Dash being the best character speaks to the weakness of every other character. Harry is a very generic army type with PTSD who makes infuriating decisions that inevitably worsen situations and therefore pushes the narrative forward, Sasha had very little personality beyond Harry calling her "fucking awesome" and "such a rockstar" all the time, and Dan and Lucy may have well been ripped straight the Stephen King book of "strange, wise old neighbors with hearts of gold." 
- It isn't really scary. There's some interesting imagery, but there's little in the way of genuine unease or fright. 
- The ending is so rushed that it almost feels like the authors were tired of writing it and just wanted to wrap it up as quickly as possible. 

Three stars. A bit too bloated where it shouldn't be and too slim where it counted. Still fun though, so give it a try. 

FFO: dogs, the four seasons, WFH. 

**I was given a copy of this book by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to Grand Central Publishing and Netgalley**
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3.5/5 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️✨

This one started off good and instantly reminded me of Pet Semetary, which is one of my favorite books, but I was disappointed when not much happened by the halfway point. All the explanations you get about the spiritual rituals took most of the fun out of it. I kept waiting and waiting for something to go off script. It eventually gets good, but I can see why I saw a few DNF reviews. It takes a while to get there, and until it does, you’re reading about pretty boring stuff. All the hunting, fishing, wartime stories got old real fast. I wanted a horror novel that would scare the shit out of me. It had a few creepy moments, but it never got truly scary. And the ending was a real bummer. Some stuff was resolved, but you were mostly left with unanswered questions. I am rating this slightly higher than average though, mainly because the premise was so unique. This had potential, and I am genuinely excited to see what these authors do next. And Dash, their dog, was amazing. Dash gets five stars!
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I loved this one. I had to force myself to put it down or I would have read it in one sitting. The storyline was intriguing and I definitely enjoyed it. 

What begins as something that sounds silly becomes chilling in the telling. it was a story that the reader could not look away from while it builds and builds to the shocking conclusion. 

This was one scary book. Well written, creepy, with alternating chapters written by Harry and Sasha. I liked the characters. I liked the plotline. I liked their golden retriever! Any book with a great dog will always have my heart!
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I NEED THIS BOOK TO BE A MOVIE! Gahh it’s so creepy and chilling and downright scary at times. Harry, Sasha, and their bird hunting golden retriever, Dash, decide to move to a 35 acre ranch in the middle of nowhere - let’s the spooks ensue! I loved the characters, love Harry’s back story and his commitment to Sasha and their life together. I also Felt like the whole story had such a deeper underlying meaning for things that had happened in Harry’s life up to this point. I haven’t read a horror novel this good in a while! 

Thank you to NetGalley for an advanced e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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I've been waiting for this book since Reddit, and stoked for its upcoming feature films. The books premise is fantastic, although at times I found it a bit repetitive. Thats not the worst thing in the world, but it did seem to be redundant at times. Enjoyed the creativity of this book, and the originality.
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Oh my gosh I really enjoyed reading this one! It was spooky and thrilling and it hooked me from the very beginning!
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3.5 stars

Old Country is a debut horror novel written by two brothers and conceived on the r/NoSleep subreddit. The story is told through a couple’s two points of view – Sasha and Harry – as they move to a ranch in Idaho after buying it sight unseen and encounter the unique difficulties of living in the Teton Valley – namely an ancient spirit.

I found the plot of Old Country unique and intriguing. I found the horror elements actually unnerving, which is unusual for me in the best way. The storyline was easy to follow, albeit a bit uneven. The writing and story improve after the first act.

While I enjoyed the plot overall, I found the novel to be slow in places. This was particularly true for a portion of Harry’s chapters. I could have done without rehashing Harry’s past and what made him the misogynistic ex-military guy with anger issues who refuses to listen to anyone and does whatever he wants regardless of consequences. In fact, I could have done without Harry period. He was an asshole to his own dog, who was basically the hero of this story. I would not want a Harry in my life, so I also prefer not to have one in my books. But that is a personal preference, and I do not think everyone will be as annoyed by Harry as I was.

A majority of books I read are written by women and occasionally I will read a book that screams to me that it was written by a man. Old Country was one of those books. It is hard to describe exactly, but the actions and musing of the characters really read as from a male perspective. There is also a big plot point that I will not state outright as not to ruin the story for anyone. But I think a woman in particularly would find the decision and consequences of that plot point much more weighty than the manner in which it was handled. It kind of blows my mind thinking back on the unrealistic c’est la vie attitude taken towards it and screams a position only a man would be entitled to take in that situation.

For a debut novel, I think the character development was solid. I found that the female characters were less developed and served as more supporting characters to the men. I do wish that a couple of the characters had more page-time. If all the characters had been as well-developed as Harry, I think this book would have been elevated.

In the end, I thought Old Country was an enjoyable debut novel, especially for spooky season. The horror elements really delivered and helped pull the book along through some unnecessary details and scenes. If you can look past the unlikeable characters or some of the more problematic aspects, I think you will find this to be a decent horror story.
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Oh, how I wanted to love this book. Apparently, Old Country was born out of r/nosleep, a subreddit I LOVED back in the day. Having grown up in the particular strain of 90s fundamentalism where Harry Potter was too dark and satanic, I found in subreddits like r/nosleep and r/letsnotmeet a chance to dip a toe into the horror/thriller world and start to fall in love with this genre. I will never forget the one about the spiral staircases in the woods:

However, as much as I initially loved the idea of a horror novel based on a Reddit thread, the problems with this setup quickly become clear. We all knew (I think) that most of the stories on these subs were completely made up, but seeing them posted by anonymous users allowed us to give ourselves shivers by pretending they might actually be real. Switching the format to a unambiguously fictional novel takes away a huge part of what made r/nosleep so compelling.

Another aspect lost in translation is that r/nosleep was short, creepy stories sketched out simply, in the way friends would tell a ghost story around a campfire. Stretching a story like this into an entire novel has unfortunately resulted in something repetitive and full of filler. We all heard the story growing up about the babysitter who was home alone with the kids and called their parents to ask about the creepy clown statue in the hallway, which turned out to be a serial killer. Imagine if someone tried to make that story into a novel, with the backstory of the babysitter, switching to parents’ POV, adding unnecessary side characters, and having the babysitter spend several chapters refusing to believe the clown statue could ACTUALLY be a serial killer. That’s basically what we have here – and boy, does it show.

Characters in the novel are forgettable, descriptions are vague, pacing is slow, the two POV narrative voices are identical, the writing is often bland ("It wasn't depressing in a depressing way," ch. 22), and the dialog is a bizarre mix of shoved-in SAT words ("starting the fire would represent my acquiescence," ch. 9) and botched folksy-isms ("there ain't anything I can do about this," ch. 13).

Most of all, however, I felt this novel suffered from lacking the #1 thing that makes me love horror stories: an effective intertwining of the supernatural frights happening to their characters, and their own darkness within. It's unfair, I know, but contrast Old Country with The Shining. Both novels feature families who have taken up residence in the middle of nowhere, with husbands/fathers with violent tendencies, who then find themselves trapped in isolating locations, besieged by malevolent presences there. What really makes The Shining scary to me, however, is not the hedge animals or the ghost in the bathtub or even that godawful dog costume guy, but it's the monstrosity that we see revealed in Jack himself and in his treatment of his wife and child. In Old Country, however, Harry and Sasha are good, honest folks who are deeply committed to and in love with each other. Except for a half-hearted attempt at the end to connect Harry's military background with the ghosts haunting their ranch, there really isn't any reason for the threats in Old Country to be supernatural at all. At the end of the day, this could just as easily have been a story about a loving couple fighting off wolves or wildcats. What was it Tolstoy said -- happy families don't make good horror novels?

Apparently, the two brothers who wrote this book are a lawyer and a screenwriter:

I know every writer has to start somewhere, but Old Country feels way too much like a first book, and should have been considered a first draft in my opinion. I just didn't get the suspense, peril, or interiority that I look for in this genre
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In their debut novel, brothers Matt and Harrison Query explore the ultimate in buyer’s remorse: What if the home of your dreams wanted you dead?

Based on the Reddit sensation, Old Country is a horror-thriller about a young couple who buys the perfect, secluded house—only to discover the terror within.

It’s the house of their dreams. Former marine Harry and his wife, Sasha, have packed up their life and their golden retriever, Dash, and fled the corporate rat race to live off the land in rural Idaho. Their breathtaking new home sits on more than forty acres of meadow, aspen trees, and pine forest in the Teton Valley. Even if their friends and family think it’s a strange choice for an up-and-coming pair of urban professionals, Harry and Sasha couldn’t be happier about the future they’re building, all by their lonesome.

That is, until their nearest neighbors, Dan and Lucy Steiner, come bearing more than housewarming gifts. Dan and Lucy warn Harry and Sasha of a malevolent spirit that lives in the valley, one that with every season will haunt them in fresh, ever-more-diabolical ways. At first, it seems like an old wives’ tale. But when spring arrives, so does the first evil manifestation, challenging everything Harry and Sasha thought they knew about the world.

As each season passes, the spirit grows stronger, the land more sinister, and each encounter more dangerous. Will Harry and Sasha learn the true meaning of a forever home before it’s too late? Haunting and bone-chilling, Old Country is a spellbinding debut in the horror genre.

“You don’t know anything.”

This book takes a deeper look at the realism behind horror. It reflects on society, authenticity, and mortality, but most of all humbles us to our place in the grand scheme of things.

“We’ve been out here on borrowed land and time, and while I don’t regret a minute of it, this land was never really ours.”

In a larger sense, the demon of the seasons represents a very real danger. If we, as humans, continue to take from the Earth as we do, we will anger the Earth, and it will turn against us. This book reminds us of our place in nature, and pleads with us to recognize and respect that balance.

“Follow the rules, and we can live a safe life here.”

The Earth is not ours. Nature belongs to no man—it belongs to Spirit itself. Trying to take land away from Spirit will only anger it. Trying to banish this spirit will not work—you must learn to understand the spirit, it is a part of Creation. You may not own it, but you may learn to live with it—if you can find respect and understanding for the land itself, you can find a balance, and Spirit will allow you space on this land. Must learn to coexist with you the forces of the universe, we must understand and respect the give-and-take nature of the earth and its cycles, and only then will you find harmony.

“All our lives, every hour, are subject to the whim and caprice of the spirit, we all share that, and in the end, it takes us all.”

You can still read the original publication on Reddit r/nosleep here. Some changes were made to flesh out the story and turn a short story into novel length. Notably, there is much more character development from Harry in the book; he has much more space to reflect on himself, his choices, and his place in nature.

Netflix has made a commitment between rights to the Matt Query short story My Wife & I Bought a Ranch, and scripting fees for the author’s brother Harrison Query to write the screenplay.

Thank you so much to Grand Central Publishing for sending me an Advance Reading Copy of this title. All opinions are my own.
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Like Harry and Sasha I have a dream of living off the land. I loved hearing Sasha and Harry’s excitement to go out and have a piece of land to make their own. Even when things were bad, they were able to see the beauty in their surrounding nature. 

I don’t personally know anyone closely that has served in the military. I enjoyed reading how Harry came back, went through hard times and getting back on his feet. But I still did not like Harry. Some of his background made me think of the HBO show Barry. He was very full of anger and I felt like the constant swearing was overkill. But maybe that’s common in the service. I immediately had a bad feeling from him. 

Everything was described so well that I could see the scenes flashing in my head like a movie. 

I love local lore. I would be terrified to move into a place as secluded as the ranch and find out all of this. But I’d also be weirdly into it. 

The mountain spirits reminded me of a Studio Ghibli movie. Especially Princess Mononoke. 

Once I started reading I didn’t want to stop. I had a hard time getting through work knowing I had half of the book to go. I felt an immense sense of dread that stayed with me throughout the book. So did I like it? 

Yes! Books like this are a dream for me. Unsuspecting couples moving into what would appear to be their dream home only to discover sinister spirits out to get them. Add in a nature/living off the land element and I’m hooked! 

Similar books: Gallows Hill by Darcy Coates. 

Thank you NetGalley for the opportunity to read Old Country. I have written this review voluntarily.
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Based on a Reddit post (I've never felt more 2022 than typing that sentence), "Old Country" tells the story of Harry and Sasha. They move to a remote plot of land in Idaho with their dog Dash in hopes of a quieter life. Upon arrival, they meet their closest neighbors who have a few things to share with them about how live on the land...and survive.

I absolutely loved the Reddit post and spent a morning reading it and being sufficiently creeped out. I was so excited when I heard this book was being published as I couldn't wait for a more fleshed-out version of the story. In the book we get a lot more background about Harry's past as a Marine, as well as how that shapes his relationship with Sasha. All of the creepiness is there--and then some.

I loved Dash, much as I did in the Reddit post. A loyal and protective dog, I would feel much safer in the "Old Country" with him by my side. And speaking of dogs, the story gave me some early Stephen King/Pet Sematary vibes with the wise older neighbor and mythology surrounding the land. 

This was a really nice creepy story. It's a twist on a haunted house story in that it's not so much the house that one needs to be afraid of. Divided into the four seasons, I thought the final season of the book "Winter" was a little rushed and I'm not sure I fully believed that Harry and Sasha were the first people to come to the conclusion that they did. That being said, I still very much enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who appreciates creepy stories, as well as something different within the horror genre. 

4 stars/5.

Thanks to Net Galley and Grand Central Publishing for my advanced copy.
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A good friend in my reading community suggested I request Old Country. He had told me that he never read a book that moved him as much as this one did. Judging by the title, I had no clue what I was getting myself into but I think this is expert marketing as I was definitely intrigued and needed to know more. 

I loved the way this story was narrated from multiple points of view, it really brought everything together and made it multi-dimensional. Old Country is a fast paced suspenseful thriller that also holds some "horror" elements. My friend was not wrong in suggesting this book to me, I instantly became obsessed and could not put this book down. 

From the minute I started I knew I was in it for the long haul. I finished this book in one sitting and without one regret. Old Country is going to be an instant hit among thrill/horror lovers and I am so grateful for the opportunity to have read and reviewed this book prior to the big release! 

Thank you Matt Query, Harrison Query and Grand Central Publishing !
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“Wild things go on in old country like this, Mr. Blakemore. You’ve gotta follow the rules. That’s really all there is to it.”

Harry and Sasha Blakemore are a young professional couple in their thirties living in Denver who decide they want to get away from the rat race. Harry was a Marine in Afghanistan, injured by an IED, and is now wanting to fish and hunt more. Sasha is in advertising and realizes she can do her job remotely just as easily as stuck in an office.

So, after some searching, they find a 55 acre ranch in the Teton Valley with the nearest large town being Rexburg, Idaho and they fall in love with it and buy it.

Soon after they move in their closest neighbors come to warn them about the seasonal malignant mountain spirit that visits their valley, which of course they don't believe first.

This was one scary book. Well written, creepy, with alternating chapters written by Harry and Sasha. I liked the characters. I liked the plotline. I liked their golden retriever. I liked the location. I liked the different manifestations of the spirit. I pretty much liked everything about this horror story. I highly recommend it.

I received this book from Grand Central Publishing through Net Galley in the hopes that I would read this book and write an unbiased review.
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A fun read that satisfied my constant craving for a good isolation/nature-based horror. I enjoyed how the story captured the respect and humility that can come with accepting nature as something beyond our understanding or control. I also LOVE when a story can pull off an ambiguous entity that feels *meaningfully* unknowable, rather than one that feels like the author just threw a bunch of scary ideas together and thought no one would notice they never had a clear idea of their own monster to begin with.  

That being said, I did feel the supposed mythology and theories about the spirit and its manifestations were very inconsistent. There are times the characters are simply offering their interpretations of the happenings, so of course you’d expect there to be varying and conflicting ideas, but to me it felt the storyline seemed to contradict itself in a few significant ways that made the overall book less impactful for me. I got the sense the author tried to make some poignant points about human nature that were in direct opposition to a couple major themes the story seemed to be centered around. 

Maybe that was just my own flawed interpretation, though. I did enjoy this book overall and would recommend it to others! 

The only other thing I’ll say is be ready for some VERY clunky dialogue because you’re gonna be reading a lot of “Babe! Baby? Baaabe!”
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-Start a fire in the fireplace when the light appears in the lake.
-Kill the naked man when he and the bear start jogging across the pasture.
-Burn the really creepy scarecrow.
These are the rules given to Harry and Sascha when they buy and move onto their dream place in remote Idaho. It’s weird and farcical until it isn’t and the couple find themselves in a surreal, fraught day-to-day that requires a suspension of disbelief and vigilance.
The book was long and disjointed and the characters overdeveloped. All of which I could overlook if I had felt there was some, I don’t know, artistry to the curse. What does the light in the lake represent and why does a fire in the fireplace placate it? Why a naked man and a slow-motion bear chase? And mostly I want to know why an enemy who obviously wants the intruders gone, follows them intent on murder when they leave?! 
So two stars for effort and an original idea.
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I enjoyed this book quite a bit. The isolation of the setting evokes a genuine eeriness that permeates the novel. I thought the concept of an ancient spirit haunting the land was wonderful and I loved the idea that it would manifest itself in differing ways with the changing of the seasons.and made for some great horrifying scenes. This book has several scenes that elicit real feelings of terror.

The main problem I had with this book was the repetitiveness of it. There was a lot of talk about the character’s time in the military. It didn’t really interest me and I felt it was making the same point over and over. In spite of this, it still made for a creepy and and wonderfully atmospheric read. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an arc of this book.
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This one was based off of the creepy pasta short story. The novel version wasn’t bad. Creepy at times though it could have been creeper. 
Who doesn’t enjoy a book about the creepy and weird house! 
Easy read that I enjoyed though it could have been scarier/creepier.
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Henry and Sasha move to an old ranch not knowing what is in store for them. They meet the neighbors and discover there are somethings about the mand that they were not aware of. 

As Henry and Sasha start to come to terms with the spirits they share their land with, it seems no matter how hard they try to get along the spirits fight back harder.

I love the concept of this book, I like the fact that the story takes a turn every season.
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