The Camp – Nancy Bush

Spoilers Ahead! (marked in purple)

“I know you’re trying to leave. I’m here to help you on your journey.”

This book and I were not meant to be. It’s not the book’s fault. The mismatch is entirely on me. I’m usually quite particular about my bookish choices: I read early reviews, I research the author’s previous books and read excerpts when I can. I didn’t do any of that here because the blurb dazzled me.

I saw “Friday the 13th meets Friends Like These at a summer sleepaway camp isolated in the woods of Oregon, as New York Times bestselling author Nancy Bush puts a diabolical modern twist on the classic 1980s slasher film trope!” I’m pretty sure I only absorbed ‘Friday the 13th’ and ‘1980s slasher film’, then expected something along the lines of My Heart Is a Chainsaw. I was ready for slasher horror when, if I’d done my usual due diligence, I would have realised I was signing up for suspense with a hefty dose of drama.

All of this to say, please read some reviews by people who read the book they thought they were going to read before deciding whether this is the book for you. Their reviews should carry much more weight than mine.

When Emma Whelan was about to begin her senior year, she attended Camp Fog Lake, known by the campers as Camp Love Shack. What takes place at camp that year cements the rumours about what happens when the fog rolls in. It also shuts the camp down.

“The fog rolls in, covers everything in a cold, gray blanket, then recedes, leaving a trail of death in its wake.”

Twenty years later, a new generation of campers are set to experience Camp Love Shack, now under new ownership. An alumni and parents’ weekend is coinciding with the Fourth of July which, if Jaws taught us nothing else, is when the chaos will reach its bloody crescendo.

Now, I questioned the return of the main players in the death scenes twenty years ago but without them there’s no story. I don’t know if anything attests to the level of damage camp did to them more than their individual decisions to allow the next generation of their families be the Guinea pigs for the grand reopening. That’s seriously messed up. But also good for the drama.

Because I spent much of the read anticipating some slicing and dicing, the drama between the characters initially threw me. You’ve got angst about exes, blackmail and rumours. There are love triangles (and a dinner triangle).

While I generally love plot twists, I tend to struggle with unreliable narrators. Deceit plays a part in the events of this book. How else could the real story of what happened that night be hidden for twenty years?

A lot of readers probably won’t even blink at the part that, had I known about it ahead of time, would have prevented me from picking up this book in the first place. I have a real problem reading books where a character lies about having been sexually assaulted. The overwhelming majority of people who disclose having been sexually assaulted in the world outside the pages are telling the truth, yet some individuals and institutions still respond to them from a position of disbelief. Stories where characters lie about this type of trauma only make it easier for people to continue to deny the experience of those who have been sexual assaulted. Regardless of how good the story is, I’m never going to be okay with that.

Please take my three stars with a grain of salt. I wasn’t the audience for this book. Chances are, you will be.

“Looks like the fog is coming.”

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Zebra Books, an imprint of Kensington Books, for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Friday the 13th meets Friends Like These at a summer sleepaway camp isolated in the woods of Oregon, as New York Times bestselling author Nancy Bush puts a diabolical modern twist on the classic 1980s slasher film trope!

There are always stories told around the fire at summer camp – tall tales about gruesome murders and unhinged killers, concocted to scare new arrivals and lend an extra jolt of excitement to those hormone-charged nights. At Camp Luft-Shawk, nicknamed Camp Love Shack, there are stories about a creeping fog that brings death with it. But here, they’re not just campfire tales. Here, the stories are real.

Twenty years ago, a girl’s body was found on a ledge above the lake, arms crossed over her heart. Some said it was part of a suicide pact, connected to the nearby Haven Commune. Brooke, Rona, and Wendy were among the teenagers at camp that summer, looking for fun and sun, sex and adventure. They’ve never breathed a word about what really happened – or about the night their friendship shattered.

Now the camp, renamed Camp Fog Lake, has reopened for a new generation, and many of those who were there on that long-ago night are returning for an alumni weekend. But something is stirring at the lake again. As the fog rolls in, evil comes with it. Those stories were a warning, and they didn’t listen. And the only question is, who will live long enough to regret it?

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