Cover Image: Gollitok: A Horror Novel

Gollitok: A Horror Novel

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Gollitok by Andrew Najberg is a brutal nightmare of a tale set in a distant (hopefully) post-apocalyptic future where life is hard and unyielding. a survey team is sent to Gollitok, one where each member is given a different objective and/0r has their own personal agenda in play. shortly after the start of the mission, a team member is injured and things only go from bad to worse.
Gollitok is a fast-moving horror story that evolves thoughts of a Siovet Alien, where no one can be trusted and the monsters of the human variety may be just as dangerous as the supernatural ones. the plot was twisty and satisfying.
highly recommended.
4 stars out of 5.

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We all have our favorite authors, the ones who consistently deliver entertainment, proper pacing and logical thinking. But how do we find these authors? And are they really enough to keep the avid reader satisfied over and over again? Is the 30th book in a 30 book series as enjoyable as the first episode? Or do you eventually get burnt out with a rehash of the same old formula?

That is why NetGalley, Amazon Vine and similar companies provide readers with alternatives, fresh blood if you will, new authors willing to stick their necks out hoping for recognition and the establishment of a good reputation. From my experience, the odds of achievement are not very high. Some first efforts I've read have been juvenile and somewhat embarassing. One new author took my criticism to heart and delayed the printing of her novel until a rewrite could be made. Others have posted fake reviews, not realizing that some of us look at them and discover that the same "reviewers" have contributed the same praise for each of their published book.

But once in a while a serious new author comes along who is obviously 'on the cusp' of becoming a successful novelist. Andrew Najberg has earned his writing chops by publishing numerous collections of poems and short fiction, but as we know a 300 page novel takes far more effort to keep the reader engaged. "Gollitok" begins rather slowly but picks up a bit of steam as the reader becomes familiar with the characters and the environment they are working in. If you've ever wondered what happens to an abandoned Eastern European prison after a nuclear holocaust, Mr. Najberg spins one heck of a tale by slowly letting his imagination take you to this deserted area, tying together the reasons for its existence and the true usefulness this isolated prison provided to those in power. In fact his scenario not only deals with the horrifying past of the property but also informs the reader why this particular survey team was sent to Gollitok to seek out its mysteries.

This is a good first effort from Andrew Najberg. His imagination knows no boundaries and his descriptions of the action scenes really make you feel like you are walking along through these horrors with this unique cast of characters. The pacing is a bit uneven and the story line takes some time to develop, but it is worth your time just to see what lurks in Mr. Najberg's mind.

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“From here, the whole of the bluff blocks the sun, so I’m able to see the pure blue above the island in all its glory. It’s like a dome made of some precious gem or rich silk covers the entire world. No matter what follows, for this view I am grateful.”

For fans of dystopian and body horror comes the newest novel by Andrew Najberg. Based on the true island/prison camp of Goli Otok, the author takes a place of terror and despair and twists it into a thrilling fiction that will keep the reader spellbound.

Follow along with a small survey team in a post nuclear war world. Sent to an island with a history of death and torture, the characters each seem to have been given only partial information on what truly occurred at this former prison camp. Occurrences and creatures that break the spirit, and possibly the mind can be found amongst these pages. As the mystery and conspiracy deepens, the truths seem impossible to find on the desolate rock of Albertachen.

I did find the first few chapters a little dry and lacking in action, but once the survey team ascends onto the plateau I was caught up in the overall weirdness and mystery of the island. It was a hard book to finish, mainly as I wanted to keep reading and following along with the characters. What will the Bureau do next?

If you’ve enjoyed this story, check out these tales with similar vibes as well as the author’s other work:

“Head Like A Hole” by Andrew Van Wey
“Sister, Maiden, Monster” by Lucy A. Snyder


Thank you to NetGalley, the author, and Wicked House Publishing for a copy!

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A survey team enters a abandoned prison. There are things they are not prepared for lurking about. This island has secrets.

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I wish I had read this book on Halloween because it was the perfect gruesome horror story. A plague and nuclear apocalypse? What could go wrong .

Thank you for the arc.

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Give me a plague and post nuclear war read and I’m all in. This takes place after a global destruction of the world. A survey team is sent to Gollitok to assess and catalog the island, which had been a prison. During their stay, the team gains knowledge that other teams have been sent and have never returned. So starts the progression that is the beginning of the end of the current team. They experience horrors they could never imagine. Animals that have mutated, unexplained phenomena in the foliage that also appears mutated, cold dank skies that haven’t seen blue or sunshine since the nuclear wars.
The world building is eerie and the author does a great job with his development. He uses similes and metaphors in the most amazing way. The writing is formal as if it took place in the early 1900’s. He never repeats himself and gets to his points in wonderful ways. You know these characters by the end and root for them and their survival.

I would like to thank #netgalley and #wickedhousepublishing for my ARC

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(Thank you so much to NetGalley and Wicked House Publishing for this ARC! My review is based off the unedited proof of this book.)

This definitely felt a little Sci-Fi, Dystopian-esque, mixed in with some debilitating horror. It is almost apocalyptic, even tangibly so. There is a lot of pervasive descriptions and scene setting, so if you get bored with that stuff you may dislike it here. I found it at first endearing, and necessary, and then afterwards frustrating. It was also a little hard to follow the timeline due to the soviet-era war vibe, along with clear mutated wildlife that seemed more reminiscent of sci-fi. I couldn't tell exactly what happened in the beginning, only that a war had happened and left the world in shambles. It chooses to slowly feed you this information, but in the beginning for the characterization of Hammel, I believe it would've benefitted from a larger spoon.

The MC, Hammel, is a extremely observant character *and* our narrator, so the perfuse descriptions make sense even if long winded. He also has a lot of SASS and I ADORED IT. He was so sassy he gave sass to everyone, and had enough of a rank to back it up. You go Glen Coco! He also was remarkably written, never without his own opinions and motivations. With the innate ability to take action for himself, even if he is a deadpan with others. I love a character who can TAKE action rather than just talk about it.

This book was a great time, such a good time I stood up all night reading it. It feels immersive, something so clear than you can see it happening in your own mind, it felt reminiscent of Fallout 4's Far Harbor. A 3.75 out of 5

(storygraph review caused error)

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Gollitok by Andrew Najberg

This story is amazing!! This is what literary horror looks like. The story draws you in and does not let go until the very last word is written.

Gollitok is an old prison ground on an isolated island. The government sends Varka to join a crew of people to determine what happened to the prisoners, the guards, and the warden. As soon as Varka sets foot on a small boat to take him and his colleague to the island, everything begins to go wrong. Between personal vendettas and unknown ‘things’ prowling the island – there is no telling what Gollitok’s history has to tell them. There are so many questions and so much fear for three, high adrenaline packed days. Just when one question is answered, dozens more come up. Is it supernatural? Is it humans doing barbaric misdeeds? Are the ghosts of the island’s past unsettled?

Andrew Najberg is an excellent writer, in my opinion. His ability to grip the reader by the eyeballs and grab hold of your emotions with what seems very little effort on his part is truly a gift. He weaves a story rife with history while also moving through current events as we follow the group of researchers. There is no break in dates in the book… it just comes together with perfect unity.

For an immersive, intense, and devouring tale… read Gollitok. You can not go wrong in choosing Andrew Najberg. Now to read the rest of his writing. Yes, he is that good at storytelling.

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3.5 stars, rounded up

The story starts in a post-nuclear war world where our narrator, Varka, is part of a survey team going to a remote prison island, Gollitok. The author does an amazing job of just dropping us into the world and giving us some details, but not spending paragraphs on exposition, but also not leaving us completely lost. It's the best book that I've read in awhile in terms of explaining the world in a balanced way. We learn that there was a nuclear war. After the war, the remaining world was unified under The Bureau who replaced the countries' governments. Most of the technology was lost, but bits of "old tech" still exist, if you can find them.

The story is a slow burn and the author does a great job of setting the stage. Everything is a bit off with the team, the island, the prison, the story they were told for why they're there - everything. You can feel Varka's unease for the first half as he keeps encountering strangeness, and it's very well done.

Unsurprisingly, things aren't what they seem, and things get weird fast in the second half. There were many twists and turns that I wasn't expecting. Not everything was answered, which was a bit disappointing, but it felt plausible. At one point, Varka comments on how he can stay where he's at to learn everything, or get out of the collapsing tunnel and not have all the answers. It felt like a little bit of a cop out by the author, but made sense.

The writing style was a little strange. This is the first book that I've read by this author, so I don't know if it was a deliberate choice or if it's their writing style. The language felt a bit stilted, but being that the world had collapsed and then been rebuilt, it fit. I kept thinking of <i>1984</i> and how Big Brother changed language from what we know. I figured that after The Bureau was established, the language became what I was reading in the book. And overall, it wasn't that different, but it was noticeable.

Overall, this was a very interesting story and not like anything I've read before. Anyone who wants a slow burn horror will want to check this out.

Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for this advance review copy.

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This book is fast-paced, doesn't slow once the action gets going. It will leave you feeling hopeless, then give you hope, then hopeless again. I would recommend.

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the cover is what drew me in and I'm so glad I got to read this, it had the elements of a great horror novel. Andrew Najberg writes a great writing style for the horror novel, I enjoyed the way it was written and thought the horror elements. The characters felt like they were suppose to and enjoyed how everything worked for the genre. I'm excited to read more from Andrew Najberg.

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It took me a while to write this review because I wanted to do it justice.

Absolutely loved this book. It was a good story overall but it was really the details. Each scene was very well crafted and felt very intentional.

Writing: the author has the ability to create a fully complete world while not wasting words doing so. The world building is subtle and stretches throughout the book in a way that makes the reader feel like they are living in that world as they read.

This has a similar vibe to Annihilation.

There are a few editing errors. Things like “over” instead of “cover” a missing “if” in a sentence. Really minor things like that. But one character in particular speaks as if “English” is a second language - leaving out certain words and that makes sense - so don’t think that that is incorrect!

Favorite quote: “When looking at the dark of the world, it is always veiled by the light inside of us.”

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Andrew Najberg's 'Gollitok,' is an original post-apocalyptic tale giving off strong "Lost" (the old TV series) and "Annihilation" (the movie based on Vandermeer's novel, not the book) vibes: a team of investigators arrive on a mysterious island somewhere in Eastern Europe (actually, in Croatia, in the Balkans), a hellish place where a prison camp for dissidents was running once; there they meet the rest of the team (a strong female of the military type included), and slowly realize their mission, to discover what's been happening in this island considered abandoned, is becoming a struggle for survival. The revelations come fast and are quite timely, I never got bored reading this book, which is not an entirely easy read for me since I prefer supernatural horror rather than sci-fi. The book's strength lies in its atmosphere: a cold-era Soviet attitude pervades the book, as the story takes place some undetermined time in the future, after the bombs have fallen and civilization had to start again. Coupled with the really bleak atmosphere, this makes for an entertaining reading experience: the characters are neither very relatable nor compellingly drawn, but they grow on you, especially the narrator, the team leader. He has the most development and growth as a character (which is not to say much, but still...) Especially important I found the author's note in the back, where he reveals that the island not only actually exists, not only was it a prison camp for dissidents several decades ago, but it's heavily involved in his own family history. Perhaps this should have been put in the front: it'd have heightened the sense of realism and enhanced the poignancy of the ending.

Thanks to the author, the publisher, and NetGalley for a copy of the book to read and review!

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Gollitok: A Horror Novel by Andrew Najberg was received directly from the publisher and I chose to review it. I had never read this author before nor had I read the "hype," about this book. If you follow my reviews, you know I am a more action/horror, less words type of person. This book has the classic Gothic vibe, with a slow, detail loaded buildup. There is a LOT of character development and the ending doesnt really wrap everything up, setting up a sequel or leaving more to the readers imagination? If you, or someone you buy gifts for enjoys Gothic style stories, not really horror but scary nevertheless, give this book a read. For what it is worth, while reading this I was thinking how it was kind of like the original Dracula or Frankenstein novels, that could be just me though.

3.5 upgraded to 4 Stars

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I loved this gem of a horror story, with all of its oozing, pulsing, mutating descriptions of the hellscape that is Gollitok. An unusual post-apocalyptic tale, "Gollitok" is set in Eastern Europe about several decades after a nuclear holocaust left the sun blotted and people struggling to survive. There's a pervasive bleakness to the world that Najberg creates, with old Soviet era attitudes, weapons, and ideas, that pervade the landscape.

Hammel Varka is an apparatchik of the Civil Bureau, sent to lead a small survey to an abandoned island which once housed a prison camp. He is quickly confronted by the soldier Yost, who has her own hidden agenda for the secrets that the island holds. To a large extent the story reminded me of Jeff VanderMeer's [book:Annihilation|17934530]. There's a paranoid sense of greater elements at play, that people are hiding things from you, that you can't trust your senses. The landscape, the animals, the lifeforms that seem to mutate. There's a spiral staircase and a lighthouse. Did I mention the paranoia?

I found this book image on the author's website. I like it so much better than the cover version that I have:
<img src="https://img1.wsimg.com/isteam/ip/07c16898-41e2-4e63-9294-af490dbe3d55/Poster%20Beter.png/:/cr=t:0%25,l:0%25,w:100%25,h:100%25/rs=w:984,h:984"/>

And layered between all of that, is the bleak post-Soviet decay and paranoia of living in a lifetime in a repressive regime, one that helped destroy the world and now is in charge of rebuilding it.

The island, of course, is based upon the real Goli Otok, the infamous prison camp off the coast of modern Croatia that was once used by the brutal Yugoslavian Tito regime to torture Stalinist and other prisoners. This historical backdrop to the island, and reading about the author Najberg's own family history with the prison island, made the book that much more powerful for me.

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Gollitok was different than I anticipated. The novel was more about the island itself than the prison, but it was enjoyable nonetheless. The unknown is often scarier than the known and Najberg does a good job of doing just that throughout the novel. The most successful parts of the novel were the creepy scenes. They're descriptive enough for readers to know what's happening, but some things are also left up to the reader's imagination, which often lends itself to more sinister thoughts.

At first, I was a little put off by all the description because it didn't seem to progress the story and seemed almost auto generated. However, when the characters arrive at the island, it flowed better and seemed to come from the protagonist's point of view rather than the author's like it was in the beginning. It took some getting used to the writing style, but it doesn't take long to get into. In the first couple of chapters, I couldn't put my finger on which novels it reminded me of but then as I kept reading, I realized it reminded me of The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer. If readers enjoyed that trilogy, I think they'll enjoy Gollitok.

The characters are all vastly different and could have prequels dedicated to each of them. Readers find out enough about their pasts to know why they're all on the island, but finding out more about their lives before this assignment could be interesting.

Overall, Gollitok does what it's supposed to do as a horror novel and provides numerous chilling scenes and is an immersive experience for readers. I'd give it a solid 3.5 stars.

Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC!

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4.5

I'm actually at a loss for words here. I just finished reading and my mind is still racing, so I'm going to try to summarize my thoughts as best I can -

• At first, the writing style was a little hard to get into since it's a little (a lot) posh, and I'm assuming this has to do with the fact that not only is it in first-person POV but also because this book is set in a world where the characters speak to each other in a language that was supposedly created after the war so I guess it would make sense if the language felt formal. Surprisingly, this style actually works pretty great for the intense scenes.

• The horror was great; I was reading this at night and couldn't take it anymore and had to turn on a bright overhead light to continue reading because otherwise I would've been too scared to go to bed. And you best believe that as soon as I turned the light back off I ran and leaped into the bed.

• A lot of the book kept me second-guessing my theories about what was going on with this island, but at around the halfway point I started to wise up and even though I knew what the reveal was gonna be, it was still terrifying. The ending sequence felt slightly over-the-top and there were still a lot of loose ends when it comes to explanations of what exactly is going on, but I feel like that's intentional, which is fair, but I would've loved to know more about what happened here.

All in all, pretty great book as far as horror goes, and I would recommend this book to anybody who was let down by The Troop by Nick Cutter (as I was) because this book is pretty much everything I could want out of a trapped-on-an-abandoned-island-and-something-is-trying-to-kill-us type book. Or, even if you are a fan of The Troop, good chance you would like this one too. Either way, great read.

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"In a post-nuclear Eastern Europe, Hammel E Varka departs for a remote island to join a survey team cataloguing the abandoned Gollitok prison in the hopes that he will redeem his family’s tarnished reputation. After the passage across the strait leaves a team member injured, Varka quickly realizes that this survey is far from routine and that what he thought he knew about the island was a cover for more horrifying truths. As his team presses deeper into the decaying facility, hidden agendas splinter the team, and they find themselves beset with dangers beyond their worst nightmares."

Gollitok had all of the vintage and gothic feeling of horror set into the future. It's no secret, dystopians are some of my favourite genres to read and I can be very critical of them. However this fit right in there at the top. It's exciting to me when a book starts off low and slow and builds into a terrifying crescendo. As a reader, I was discovering things as they happen and didn't have a huge idea on the ending until it crept up on me.

I would love to see more from this world, even if it's just to add further lore building in. I ate this one up and was only left unsatisfied with how short it was.

Thanks for NetGalley & Andrew Najberg for an advanced copy in exchange for review. Gollitok is a must for all fans of eerie and spooky horror reads, it is set for release November 24, 2023.

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Gollitok by Andrew Najberg
Pub date: November 24, 2024
Genre: Dystopian Horror
Plot: Character Driven, very descriptive, single narrator
Overall:⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Prose⭐⭐⭐⭐
Pacing(1=slow 5=fast)⭐⭐💫
Character Development ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Scary (1=mild 5= terrifying)⭐
Gore (1=clean 5=splatter)⭐⭐⭐
Atmosphere⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
***Caution Spoilers Follow***
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Similar Vibe: Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer

The first thing that struck me about Gollitok by Andrew Najberg was the dystopian, post nuclear society. He absolutely nailed it with the creepy island prison setting. The foggy atmosphere and even the side characters smoking cigarettes (because why not after nuclear fallout) painted the whole scene in really rusty, bleak colors. An abandoned mine with strange bones everywhere, dead bodies in strange configurations, the appearance of baracading themselves in, the well with cement poured in it, seismic earthquakes, bizarre eyes in the ocean surrounding the island, a blast door and finally scratching noises coming from deep under the lighthouse; halfway through I was screaming at my oblivious nonreader husband, "IT'S A BALROG"! I won't confirm or deny if a Balrog exists in this book but it had that level of hold on me.

Fortunately for me, this story is a lot smarter than just copying a creature from other literature. Political suspense weaves it's way throughout the entire survey crew which is the basis of the plotline. A creeping paranoid malevolence starts to infect the reader's assumptions of what is happening as you read further. I can't overstate how well Najberg did with this mysterious atmosphere. It had me in it's grips almost instantly and held on throughout the book. The pacing is slow with loads of character development and in the end Najberg leaves some conclusions to be pieced together by the reader, which I appreciated. In the author's "thanks" note at the rear of the story he reveals that this book was inspired by his Grandfather's actual internment in the Croatian Goli Otok Prison (in operation from 1949-1989). As a history buff this impressed me even more. I can easily recommend Gollitok to anyone who enjoys atmospheric, creepy or dystopian type thrillers. Outstanding job on this book Andrew Najberg. I fecking loved it.

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I loved this one! It had such awesome classic gothic horror vibes, but it was set in the future which made for a really fun and unique mix.

It had such a perfect slow burn going on along with little hints here and there that something was very wrong with the island. Once the action started, I was fully invested!

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