Cover Image: Those Who Came Before

Those Who Came Before

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Just when I thought I had it figured out, this book kept surprising me with each new chapter. What started as a brutal thriller soon turned into some even grittier horror story with an unsettling solution. But what disturbed me even more than the scary fiction was the real dark history it is based on. I'm not sure which of these two I found more impressive, but combined it was an overwhelming reading experience that made a lasting impact.
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At first, this seemed your run of the mill teen/young adults go camping and it's a bad idea type of book, but the plot and characters developed into a much richer offering. Great characters and a story that stayed interesting the whole way through. Add in some true to life historical horror and this is a great read.
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At first glance, Those Who Came Before seems like typical horror slasher fare. A group of teenagers trespassing on a closed campground with complete disregard for rules and an obvious lack of respect for authority. Said teenagers then get slaughtered in a "red mist" kind of way. Not super original right? Except that's not the end of this story. What comes next is not only a deeper look into the Native American folklore of the wendigo but also a brazen look at the socio-political issues that Native Americans faced and continue to face. 

Reese finds himself suddenly the main suspect in the murders of his friends and his girlfriend after waking up in the same tent with one of the victims. However, he's so oblivious to what happened that although Detective Greyeyes can't help to believe he's the killer, her gut is telling her something very different. Once at the campground, she finds a tree, blackened and shattered from the inside out. It's only when she experiences the same disembodied voice Reese did telling her to leave, that she delves deeper into the history of the campground lands and why those on the reservation won't set foot there. 

This was my first read by the author but it won't be my last. Part mystery and part police procedural mixed with great characterization and historical paranormal link made this a fantastic read.
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I came across this author when I read City of Ghosts and wanted to try more of their work. Camping with his friends Reese wakes up to find them all slaughtered. He must prove that it is wasn’t him that did this horrific act.
From the start I knew that I was going to love this book. With its blend of horror, paranormal and supernatural, I was drawn into a story that spanned hundreds of years. The Native American mythology added layers to the story and helped explain the fear that the Strong Lake campsite had on the residents of the reserve.
Detective Maria Greyeyes who whilst had native American heritage, realised her lack of knowledge when it came to the culture and I enjoyed her interactive with Chief Kinew and Crazyhorse.
This was a well-paced book and whilst the story moved from past to present there was no confusion in the telling of the tale. The inclusion of a mythological beast adds the terror and the graphic scenes of death.
This is nothing like City of Ghost and I hope to read more in this style from this author. A great read for horror fans
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I loved the native folklore and feeling of intense horror throughout this one! Great scary read if you can stomach it all.
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A weekend camping trip goes horribly wrong for two young couples. Reese Wallace is the lone survivor of the massacre that befell them, which makes him the likely suspect.

Detective Maria Geyeyes is assigned the case and comes to realize she’ll have to set aside her belief in what is real and what is imagined and draw on her Native American heritage to solve it and stay alive.

The story started with the massacre and that quickly pulled me into the story. As the author wove past history with present day, she tightened the grip on my intrigue. And the more I learned about the characters, the more I was invested in their survival.

This is a mystery and a horror story, but also one of what goes around comes around. The past can come back to haunt you.

And the ending. Well, that gave me much to ponder.
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I am a huge fan of camping and this book shows that camping is dangerous.
I love the background that is shown and that they use parts of Native American culture and mysticism.
It was a wonderful book it just needed a bit more of the development of the characters to be great.
I would definitely try more from this author as I think she really can show and teach parts of Native American culture which is so interesting.
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This was an interesting combination of crime thriller and folklore / legend. It also alternated between past and present.

The story starts out with a camping trip at Strong Lake. Reese, a 20-something, is camping with his girlfriend and another couple. He wakes up in the morning to find the rest of them all slaughtered with no recollection of what happened. Rumors swirl around about a Native American tribe who once lived there, and their painful demise. 

This novel focuses in on the investigation and suspicion cast upon Reese by a pair of detectives investigating the (very) gruesome murders. Eventually, we also start seeing flashbacks of the lost tribe, which slowly reveals their story and the tragedy that struck them down. The stories begin to intertwine in interesting ways as we learn about the history of the lake, and a mythical creature who may be stalking the campground.

The writing seemed a bit amateur at times, and I found Reese to be a bit more childish of a character than his actual age. It sometimes felt like I was reading a YA book as opposed to adult. However, I thought it was very unique with the historical aspect and the investigation. It dabbles a bit in horror, but reads more like a crime novel.

If you like crime novels and are interested in folklore, this would be a good pick.
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Those Who Came Before is a look into the supernatural world of the aboriginal peoples and the evil that plagues their culture.

There is so much I didn’t know about the wendigo. I’ve always been interested since getting the bejeesus scared out of me from reading Pet Sematary by Stephen King but I never really looked into it further. This book told me everything I need to know, they are the stuff of nightmares! I found the book to be a very interesting and addictive read. The story is essentially a conflict between a real-world police investigation and the supernatural occurrences that shroud the horrific crime scenes. As the protagonist gets sucked into the supernatural world, so does the reader and it gets grim. I wasn’t a fan of the various flashback scenes throughout the story, I thought it was a tad excessive and it made parts of the story dry. Gimme more scary AF malevolent spirits! 

Living in Canada myself I am surrounded by aboriginal culture but I have never heard about the dark or supernatural side of their heritage. 
Man-eating evil creatures were not what I was expecting. Let those images sink in for a moment… The wendigo adds such a terrifying element to the story that I absolutely loved. I also really appreciated how accurate and informed the author was on the mythology. 

The narrative took on a lot of different forms which I enjoyed. There was lots of internal conflict amongst the characters, the struggle between tangible rather than visionary. This also added a lot of mystery and suspense to the story. I really had no way of knowing who was what until the end. In a way, each character had a subplot that engaged the reader in trying to solve the mystery. There’s a bloodthirsty evil spirit on the loose and somebody better figure something out soon because people are dying in unimaginable ways.

The story was very exciting but there were parts I dragged through. I found the flashbacks explaining the history of the lost tribe necessary but lengthy and dry. I think the reader deserved more conflict between the characters here-and-now instead of learning why the spirits of the past were vengeful. I also found that there was a real emphasis on the setting and that what happened at a specific location was the root cause of the horrific events occurring but as the story developed that emphasis shifted. In the end, I liked the shift. This made more sense but I felt that the original focus on setting was pointless and time-consuming.

Those Who Came Before by J.H. Moncrief received a rating of 3 / 5 stars. I definitely enjoyed reading this heinous tale about the nightmarish spirits, wendigo. I had a lot of fun engaging in the mystery while working my way through the various subplots. The author did a great job of building tension and conflict with each character all the way until the end. Although I did find the story a little less than desirable at times, the mythical flesh-eating monsters quickly brought me back in as they avenged those who came before.
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Sinister And Etertaining!

     This story begins with two young couples going camping for the weekend.   When they arrive they find the campsite has closed for the summer, so they decide to break through the barriers and set up camp..   The boys then gather kindling but are not having much luck, until they spy an old twisted and gnarly looking tree and chop off some branches for their fire.   Reese has been on edge all evening  wishing that they should never have stayed in this creepy, desolate place while hearing phantom noises and feeling as though he is being watched from the woods.   What happens when Reese wakes up the next morning will become a never-ending nightmare that he cannot awaken from.I

     This was my first novel by J.H. Moncrieff but it certainly won't be my last   Real horror mixed with crime and great characters plus Native American folklore came together seamlessly to give the reader gooseflesh and  shivers throughout the story.   This was a well-written and thoughtful story that. I will remember for quite awhile. 
     Creepy, sinister, evil, dark, bloody, gory, depraved are just a few of the descriptions I would use to describe this book!   I thoroughly enjoyed the book from page one until the very satisfying completion of the story.

I want to thank the publisher Flame Tree Press and Netgalley for this terrific ARC and any opinions are mine alone!

I highly recommend "Those Who Came Before" to any horror reader and have given a rating of 5 Horrifying 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 Stars!!
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Reese is off to Silver Lake to go camping with his three friends.  As they put up tents, they argue, so that the boys end up sleeping in one tent while the girls sleep in the other tent.  When Reese waits up, he finds to his horror that his three friends are dead.  He doesn’t know why he wasn’t killed.  He is taken by the police for questioning this awful tragedy.  They don’t care for his answers but there is no proof that he did it.  Detective Greyeyes doesn’t know what to do except when Crazyhorse tells her to talk to Chief Kinew (also chief of police for the reservation) of the local Native Americans reservation.  At first Chief Kinew isn’t very helpful.  When she lets Reese go back to the crime scene, he points out an object on the ground inside the tent he shared.  Detective Greyeyes picks up the object that turns out to be an arrowhead.  Where did that arrowhead come from?  The forensics team didn’t find it, only Reese did.  Detective Greyeyes takes the arrowhead so she can take it to the police department.  Detective Greyeyes is told to talk to Chief Kinew about the Wendigo.  At first, she wonders if she is going to be given the runaround again.  What does she find out about the Wendigo. Will she be able to solve the case?  

While this is a mystery, it is also a thriller with horror elements.  The Wendigo is the horror.  It s a story with twists and turns in it that surprised me.  There is also described some of the tribe’s history and what was done to them which continues today.
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Although I appreciated the Native American folklore (fiction I assume) that was included, I would not have marketed this as a horror novel.

The book transitioned between visions of the past with the present crime scenes. These parts were not separated well so I caught myself have to double check who the narrator was each chapter. I enjoyed the cast of characters from the "lost tribe" much more than the present ones... I would definitely read more about those people.

Thanks to NetGalley and publishers for the advanced reader's copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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Those Who Came Before 
Author: J H Moncrieff
Publisher: Flame Tree Press
Page count: 288pp
Release date: 24th Oct 2019
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

I’ve already mentioned that I love the work Flame Tree Press are doing to promote genre, and horror in particular.
So, when I was approved for this ARC for Those Who Come Before - and by a writer I’d not read before, I was delighted and excited to read on.
The novel starts with an argument - and our narrator, Reese, surmising that his girlfriend Jess has a tendency to make “everything into a catastrophe of epic proportions lately.” 
Jess is angry because he is twenty minutes late for picking her up for a camping trip in his truck, and to hook up with another couple in their circle of friends; Kira and Dan.
Yep. A camping trip; a wonderful, sometimes cliched staple of horror stories but always makes me tingle with anticipatory joy.
Moncrieff does a great job of setting up the characters, especially making Reese look like the bit of a thoughtless dick that he appears to be. But, appearances can be deceiving, and this novel charts Reese’s growth as a character.
However, his main concern when we meet him, is that the sex is hot with Jess, but he’s going to dump her after the trip, cause it’s losing it’s spark. And he seems to like Kira.
After a terse drive, the group arrive at Strong Lake - to find it closed for the season.
It doesn’t stop Reese from breaking in and choosing a spot.
The only issue is the wood box is locked.
Thank God, there’s one tree that might burn well enough - a large black tree, just waiting to be touched.
To be broken.
The point of view quickly changes to that of Detective Maria Greyeyes - chapters changing from POV throughout the book - who is interviewing Reese after the death of his three friends.
Like Reese, we don’t know what happened but as the narrative weaves, we begin to find out more about the camp site, the blackened tree and something at the site that watches them telling them “you’re not welcome here.”
The visceral descriptions, and Reese’s growing fear and panic are very well written, turning a cliche into something genuine.
The ‘killer’ is revealed incrementally like pieces of a larger jigsaw puzzle, which also seem connected to Native American mythology and spirituality.
It’s made clear through the detective’s chapters, that she has more than just the one battle to face on a daily basis; avoiding everyday sexism and racial slurs. Her friendship with Crazyhorse is a gentle reminder of her origins, and her encounters with Chief Kinew teach her so much more about what it means to be Native American and a woman who is also police.
With the ghost of the Donner party and hints of Croatoan/Roanoke whispering through the story, this book speaks to heritage and origins, so there is beauty with the violence.
More of a ‘whatdunnit’ than a whodunnit, the crumb trail that leads to the outcome, reveal as much about modern and historical American society, as the actual denouement itself.
White privilege exists.
It is real.
And Reese learns from his experiences that he too, is guilty of treating others without respect.
This is a great book. 
The horror elements are genuinely scary at times, and very bloody, intermingled with a great back story, believable characters and a real sense of identity.
A genuine five star horror novel.
I’ll be reading J H Moncrieff again.
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Always been a sucker for horror at camps and this one does not disappoint. When two couples find themselves illegally on a closed camp site, all hell soon breaks loose. When one survivor fails to recall what had happened it's up to this woman detective to put the pieces back together.  That in a nutshell is the premise of this horror novel. Clear narrative, a lot of spooky moments, and a fast-paced rhythm that makes you read nonstop. I will definitely check this author out once again.
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Reese, his girlfriend Jessica and her friends Dan and Kira are off for a weekend camping trip. After a row, they all head off to sleep, but when Reese wakes he finds his friends all dead, literally ripped apart….he hadn’t heard a thing….

This all happened on land, part of a nearby American Indian reservation, so the local Detective Maria Greyeyes asks for help from the local Chief. Together they identify something else may be stalking the woods…a Wendigo

This is a camping trip horror story with some really gruesome and creepy moments to keep your heart pounding. (It reminded me of one of the Supernatural TV show’s episodes too). Great characters, atmospheric writing and a gripping, creepy plot make this a thoroughly entertaining read.

Thank you to The author, the publishers and NetGalley for a free ecopy of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.
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This book was sent to me to read in exchange for an honest review via netgalley and the publishers.

What a ride this book was. I couldn't put it down. It gave me chills and fascinated me at the same time.
A real chilling page turning read not for the light hearted. So glad I chose this to read for halloween. 
A mix of horror and folklaw really bring this book to its full peak. I loved it.
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Today is Halloween, which marks my annual foray into horror – or at least horror-adjacency. But this time, it’s horror. Real, honest-to-goodness, not to be read with the lights off or right before bedtime, horror.

And it’s creepy and compelling and compellingly creepy. And I’m still creeped out.

There’s that whole thing about “mystery wrapped in an enigma”. Those Who Came Before, is horror wrapped in a police procedural interwoven with true crime historic horror and coated with blood and gore and stink and plenty more horror. The creepy kind that keeps you – or at least me – up at night. And the historic kind that makes you sick to your stomach as well at humanity’s past and present inhumanity to anyone of its kind that it can pretend isn’t – even though it most definitely is.

There’s horror and then there’s horror. The horror of the series of inexplicable deaths, and the historic horror of the smallpox epidemic among the Native tribes that was deliberately inflicted by the white settlers.

All in a tiny campground that absolutely no one wants. A place that should either be labeled “Here Be Monsters”, “Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here” or both. Definitely both.

Reese Wallace begins the story, and the night, as a dorky, jerky kid, a college graduate who hasn’t grown up yet. In the morning he wakes up in that campground, covered in blood, surrounded by the bodies of the three friends he went camping with.

He didn’t hear a thing while they were tormented and dismembered. But he didn’t do it.

The question that Detective Maria Greyeyes has to solve is not so much whodunnit as what dunnit? And does she need to believe in it in order to stop it before it kills again? It certainly believes in her.

Escape Rating A-: Reese is way too much of an entitled jerk in the beginning, and the bullying, abusive cop (who does get what’s coming to him) is a bit too much of a cliche to make this a full A – but it was definitely close. But OMG this thing is compelling, especially the parts where Maria Greyeyes is trying to follow standard police procedure to investigate a crime that is so far from standard that it follows her home at night – literally.

At the same time, the terrible history that is explored, through dreams as well as research, is chilling because that part of the story is real. White settlers really did deliberately infect Native tribes by handing out blankets infected with smallpox. And plenty worse. This part of the story reminded me of the excellent, totally chilling true crime story Killers of the Flower Moon.

What happens in Those Who Came Before is creepier because it veers from that historic horror to contemporary horror, as the bodies pile up. And as the spirit of whatever has gone so very wrong manages to invade both Reese’s and Maria’s daily lives.

As a story, that felt like the most horror invested – or infested – part. In their attempt to find out what went wrong and fix it, they become unable to trust themselves and their own actions and reactions. They are both afraid that they have become the horror they are trying to prevent.

The ending of this one is terrifying in the wide openness of its possibilities – and the horror that might return.
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Two couples prepare to spend the weekend in a cursed campground. Only one young man survives the slaughter that first night.
 The events that follow reveal the mystery of what happened to the first Native Americans who disappeared from this land so many years ago. The author does a brilliant job of weaving together a story of historical fiction, Native American folklore and supernatural horror with a dark and ominous atmosphere. We would all do well to remember those who came before.
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Thank you NetGalley and Flame Tree for an advanced copy. I voluntarily reviewed this book. All opinions expressed are my own. 

Those Who Came Before 
By: J.H. Moncrieff 

*REVIEW*  🔥🔥🔥🔥
I'm new to the author, and I like what I've read so far with Those Who Came Before. This story is dark and sinister and haunting.  Native folklore is deeply rooted and authentic within the story. Imagine a killer demon at a campground, and you are the only survivor. Reese sounds like a crazy person, and no-one believes him-until the lead detective has an experience that changes her mind. The story is told from multiple points of view in different time periods. It's original and engrossing. I was fascinated by the entire story. It's a terrible twisted tale of the horrors of the past manifesting in the present in a shocking way, and I never want to go camping.
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I’ve been a big fan of J.H. Moncrieff’s work for a couple of years. I’ve read seven of her titles, including all four books in the “Ghost Writers” series plus; “Return to Dyatlov Pass,” “Monsters In Our Wake,” and “The Bear Who Wouldn’t Leave.” J.H. was also the first author to agree to an interview in my “Third Degree” feature on The Haunted Pen website. So when I was offered the chance to read a review copy of “Those Who Came Before,” I jumped at it and wasn’t disappointed.

The story expertly blends several genres – police procedural, historical fiction, supernatural – but at its core, this is a darn good horror story.

When I first started reading, my initial thought was “Oh, no, not another deserted campground story.” But I should’ve known better than to doubt the author. This is a million miles away from being a standard-issue campground slasher story.

One thing I’ve noticed throughout everything I’ve read by J.H. Moncrieff is she writes great characters and descriptions, and this book is no exception. In fact, I think she’s raised her own bar. The characters have a lifelike feel, like someone you would speak to in a store or a coffee shop. The characters have depth and they elicit genuine feelings from the reader.

Each character has a backstory and a personality. After only a couple of pages I ‘knew’ the characters, or someone like them in real life, and that familiarity kept me reading for long periods at a time. When you, as a reader, connect to a character, the story becomes real and even more compelling. The skill to write such good characterization is an art form and I tip my Fedora to the author for doing it so well.

Told from different points of view from first person to third person, the book is atmospheric in both the present tense and in flashback. Historical fiction has to be gripping to keep me reading, and “Those Who Came Before” gripped me where it hurts.

Any horror fan will know that Native American folklore is dark and scary and the author portrays this aspect wonderfully with the appearance of a demon – the brutal, nightmarish Wendigo. The weaving of historical data into the story is seamless. I found a lot of this part of the book to be thought provoking and has led me to Google for more information on more than a few occasions, I had no idea that small pox was introduced through gifts of infected blankets.

I think it’s one of those rare stories where I can’t find fault. Yes, it was that good. I could write a whole lot more about this book, but I won’t. You need to be reading “Those Who Came Before,” not reading my review. As far as I’m concerned, J.H.’s work gets better and better and this release is a winner from the first word to the last.
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